Constant communication reassures parents and studentsOverseas-education | Samuel Chan 6 Oct 2020
So often in Hong Kong, the coronavirus news coming out of the UK seems to be only bad.
We can be left with the impression that nobody is taking the pandemic seriously in Britain.
However, being in constant contact with so many heads and registrars from schools across the UK, I can say that this is not the case at all.
The new academic year has started very well in nearly all schools and some are reporting excellent news and some very interesting insights as well.
A prime example is Ruthin School, a top-ranking independent school in north Wales. While it isn't as famous as, say, Eton or Harrow, it achieves top results and can boast a history that goes back to 1284.
Coeducational since 1990, Ruthin brings together its rich history and traditions with all the benefits of cutting-edge technology and teaching.
I have written previously in this column about the importance of schools communicating with international parents about how they are handling Covid-19 and providing them with clear information every step of the way.
Ruthin's headmaster Paul Wallace-Woodroffe has done exactly this over the last few months.
Throughout the summer, the school provided regular updates that went into great detail. It made sure to give international parents clear medical and scientific data, as well as guide them to the UK Office for National Statistics website.
The idea was to make absolutely sure that parents were getting the facts and not just the sensational news headlines.
Clearly, parents were reassured by these updates because out of a total of 230 boarders, only 27 did not return for the beginning of term. That figure includes those who were required to undergo a period of quarantine.
Of those who didn't return at the start of term, 11 joined the school again within two weeks - the delay was due simply to not being able to secure flights to get them back in time.
In total, then, only 16 opted to return in January.
Given that Ruthin School has pupils from over 30 different countries, this is impressive work and shows the power of good communication to international parents.
As well as being keen to share with me his school's haul of top exam results and Oxbridge places from the academic year just gone, Wallace-Woodroffe wanted to send yet more reassurance to international parents.
The headmaster explained to me some surprising facts about Covid-19.
First, in the UK, for those under 18, serious risk resulting in death was one in 2.4 million.
Secondly, the risk to this age group is not even in the top 10 causes of serious illness or death as found in a normal year.
And finally, 89 percent of children in this age group who have had Covid-19 showed no symptoms at all.
Regarding the mental health of children, the potential psychological problems for international students and the general atmosphere in the school, Ruthin presents a familiar scenario: while the children are relaxed and getting on with school life as usual, it is the parents who are more concerned.
For more information about UK schools and their coronavirus updates, get in touch with my team at Britannia Studylink on 3184-0362