Updated 9th October 2020
When covid-19 appeared in Europe early in 2020, we looked at the risks and decided that we should not run our courses in 2020.
We would love to be back with our students in the summer of 2021 but, having looked at what this might mean for our students, staff and homestays, we have regrettably decided that it would be best for all if we do not run courses in the 2021 season. Here are the main reasons:
Health experts agree that there will almost certainly not be a tried and tested vaccine available by next summer. Even if one is available, it will take many months before an adequate supply has been produced and distributed for everyone to be vaccinated.
This means that the UK government’s current policy will continue. As it stands at the moment, this will potentially have the following effects:
Any students coming to the UK from countries which are considered at high risk of covid-19 will have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. They will have to stay at their homestays and will not be allowed to go out for their lessons or anything else for 14 days. There is currently a fine of £1,000 for anyone breaking this rule.
As of 9th October 2020, all countries in Europe are on the high risk list except for the following:
Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands and Greenland, Finland, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece (not including Mykonos and Crete), Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Madeira and the Azores (not including mainland Portugal), Norway, San Marino, Sweden.
This list changes regularly, so far with just over 24 hours’ notice – so that when students booked a course with us they would not know whether they would have to self-isolate on arrival.
A student from one of the high risk countries who booked a two-week course with us would spend the whole course in self-isolation at their homestay.
Any students showing symptoms of covid during their stay in Weymouth would have to self-isolate at their homestay for 14 days.
Any students in self-isolation on the date they are due to travel home would not be allowed to travel. They would have to complete the full self-isolation period at their homestay before returning to their home countries. This would also involve additional costs for the extended accommodation, change of flight, etc.
Although we can legally run courses, we would need to have extensive safety measures in place which we believe would take away a lot from the experience that we normally offer. Apart from the obvious factors such as having to wear face masks and regularly washing hands, it would also mean:
Students would have to be placed in ‘bubbles’, which means that each student would have to stay with the students in his or her class and not interact closely with students from the other classes. This would include the journey to and from school and all free-time activities. Friends coming on a course together would not be together at all unless they were placed in the same class.
Lessons would start and finish at differing times for each bubble. Break and lunch times would be at dfferent times for each bubble.
Many of the fun activities which we run would not be possible in their usual form.
Whereas WEC students can choose their own activities on their free-time programme, this would no longer work: their activities would be fixed in advance and changes would not be possible.
The sightseeing trips and excursions which we normally run would not be possible due to social distancing requirements.
Social distancing measures would increase the cost of airport transfers and all coach transport by a considerable amount.
If any students in a bubble showed symptoms of covid, all the students in that bubble would have to self-isolate for 14 days.
These measures also affect our staff and homestays. Any member of staff who shows symptoms of covid would also need to self-isolate for 14 days. It could be difficult for us to guarantee all lessons if too many teachers were affected.
If a student had to go into self-isolation, all the members of their homestay would also need to do the same. Of course if a member of a homestay shows symptoms then all students staying with that homestay would also need to self-isolate.
All of the above means that we would not be able to provide the fun-packed learning experience for which we are known. In the interests of our students, staff and homestays we have regrettably come to the conclusion that it would not be wise to run courses in the summer of 2021.
We very much hope that we will be operating courses as normal in the summer of 2022.
We will review the situation and update this page regularly.
Updated 9th October 2020