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All activity aimed at accepting students from overseas into school boarding, college and university accommodation must be in keeping with legislation and should have regard to the latest public health guidance issued in Wales. The risks from the COVID-19 pandemic remain very real.

The guidance has been drafted in line with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

This guidance relates to unaccompanied boarding school students, and minors travelling to the UK to attend a boarding school, college or university in Wales and who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days (referred to as ‘red list country students’ in this document). Please note that transit through a red list country by ship or aircraft does not constitute having been in that country provided that the person travelling does not disembark from the aircraft or ship while in that country and no other passenger embarks on the aircraft or ship while it is in that country – see Regulation 2(4) of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020.

Boarding schools, colleges and universities based in Wales need to ensure that they follow this Wales guidance as the approach for students studying in England may be different.

This guidance is non-statutory. It aims to assist boarding schools, colleges and universities receiving students and the students who might be travelling by summarising the relevant legal requirements and by providing advice to boarding schools about isolation arrangements for students who have been in red list countries. It should not be taken as a complete outline of the legal position.  It relates to students aged under 18; students aged 18 and over should follow the Welsh Government’s guidance for arrivals from red list countries.

The principal legislation governing isolation (sometimes referred to as ‘quarantine’) for persons arriving in Wales is the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (Wales) Regulations 2020. The legal requirements explained in this guidance stem from that legislation unless otherwise indicated. The Regulations are referred to in this guidance as ‘the International Travel Regulations’. The International Travel Regulations are a common thread through this document, providing the main law governing entry to and isolation in Wales.

In line with this guidance, red list country students should isolate within accommodation provided for or arranged by their boarding school, college or university. 

This guidance relates specifically to students travelling to Wales who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days. For guidance relevant to students who have been in an ‘amber list’ country in the 10 days before arrival in Wales, please refer to:

Note that students who have been in a red list country in the 10 days before arrival in Wales should isolate as a single household. The only exception to this is if students are actually from the same household in their usual non-UK residence, for example if they are siblings and have travelled together (see below). If, following a student’s arrival in Wales it is subsequently found that they were in a red list country in the 10 days prior to their arrival, the school must immediately inform Test Trace Protect and change the way the student is isolating so that it follows this guidance.

It is important that each boarding school or setting in Wales where students are in isolation appoints a designated person to oversee the arrangements, and that there is regular engagement with Test Trace Protect. The Chair of the local incident management team (IMT) must also be made aware of the student who is isolating at the school or  setting.


In this guidance, ‘boarding school’ means a school, college or university, hereafter referred to as setting that:

  • provides accommodation for its students on its own premises


  • arranges accommodation for its students to be provided elsewhere (other than in connection with a residential trip away from the school or setting).

In this guidance, ‘school’ means:

  • a community, foundation or voluntary school or a community or foundation special school within the meaning of section 20 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998
  • an independent school included in the register of independent schools in Wales (kept under section 158 of the Education Act 2002)
  • a non-maintained special school (as defined in section 337A of the Education Act 1996)
  • a student referral unit within the meaning of section 19(2) of the Education Act 1996

In this guidance, ‘college’ means an setting within the further education sector, within the meaning of section 91 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.

In this guidance, ‘university’ refers to a higher education provider, within the meaning of section 83(1) of the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.

Travel to Wales

Subject to certain exceptions, the International Travel Regulations do not permit any person who has been in a red list country in the previous 10 days to enter Wales.

Amendments have now been made to the International Travel Regulations to include students in the list of exceptions to the ban on persons (P) who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days entering Wales, provided that the student:

  • is, or was on 1 September 2021, a child; and
  • has travelled to the United Kingdom for the purposes of receiving education at a boarding school, college or university in Wales at which education and accommodation is due to be provided or arranged for them by that setting; and
  • is not accompanied into the United Kingdom by an individual who has responsibility for them, or if P is aged 18, would have had such responsibility if the student were a child.

However, aircraft and vessels are not currently permitted to travel to Wales from a red list country. This means that persons meeting the criteria of the student exception should travel to England before travelling directly to their boarding school (see ‘Travel to boarding school or setting’ below). Please note that although Scotland and Northern Ireland have ports of entry for persons who have been in a red list country in the previous 10 days, only England has a specific provision to allow eligiblestudents to travel to Wales and isolate at their boarding school or setting.

Red list country students will still be subject to a requirement to isolate (see ‘Isolation in school boarding facilities’).

A boarding school or setting wishing to receive students from red list countries should inform the Welsh Government that they have met the isolation requirements. The Welsh Government will issue a letter to the school or setting which settings can adapt to issue to the student. The student must have a letter when entering England. This letter will confirm an exception that permits boarding school and other under-18 students arriving from red list countries to serve their isolation in their school or setting

Before travelling

There is no Test to Release scheme in Wales. Therefore, negative tests taken elsewhere do not avoid or reduce the period of isolation required in Wales. All students who have been in a red list country in the 10 days before arrival in the UK are required to complete the full period of isolation.

Schools or settings should have travel plans in place, including arrangements for the collection and transfer of students to the accommodation where they will isolate. The plans should be explained to students and their parents/carers before they travel. It may be helpful if boarding schools and settings signpost this guidance to parents/carers and students so that they are aware of what to expect when travelling to Wales to isolate at their boarding school or setting.

Schools and settings should send students returning from or through red list countries the following:

  • a copy of the letter from the Welsh Government to the school or settingconfirming that red list country students are covered by an exception
  • a letter from their school or setting to the student meeting the requirements as set out in the letter from the Welsh Government to the school or setting

Red list country students should be ready to present both of these letters to UK Border Force officials on arrival.

Prior to arrival, red list country students aged 11 or over will need to comply with relevant pre-travel testing and passenger locator form requirements. This includes completion of a passenger locator form before arrival, with details of where they will isolate, when they will arrive and the travel test package booking reference number. This should be completed in line with the Welsh Government’s letter to boarding schools and settings which will confirm that these arrangements apply.

Before travelling, red list country students aged 5 or over will also need to book and pay for a post-arrival COVID-19 testing package via the booking portal. Boarding school and other under-18 students should book on the amber package via the Wales link and click on the exemption. They will only need to book the relevant COVID-19 test package linked in the portal, and not a managed isolation package. See ‘Testing red list country students’ below for guidance on how boarding schools and settings can help with testing.

Following their arrival in Wales students must take a coronavirus (COVID-19) test on or before day 2 for variant surveillance and a test on or after day 8 to check that they do not have coronavirus (COVID-19).

Further help on the process for booking via the Corporate Travel Management (CTM) site is provided at the end of this guidance.

Travel to boarding school or setting

The International Travel Regulations and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 require a student to travel directly to the place they intend to isolate, which will be accommodation at, or arranged by, the boarding school, college or university. To facilitate this, boarding schools and settings should arrange transport for their red list country students. The transport should:

  • be a motor vehicle, rather than public transport
  • be accompanied by a representative of the boarding school or setting. 

The boarding school or setting’s representative should ensure they are at the port of entry in good time to pick up the arriving student(s) and carry proof of identity. If the representative has issues getting to the port of entry on time they should phone and advise the Managed Quarantine Operations Centre in accordance with the details in the letter that the Welsh Government will issue to the school or setting. This includes if there is a change in the school or setting’s representative responsible for the student’s pick up and transport after the school or setting has issued its letter to the student. When they have arrived at the port of entry and are ready to pick up the student, they should go to the ‘managed quarantine’ collection point in the arrivals hall. Once the representative’s identity has been confirmed by the Border Force officials the student will be brought through to meet them.

A primary consideration during the transportation of students to the boarding school or setting is to prevent the introduction of a potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant, or one that causes greater morbidity, or one that escapes the protection provided by previous natural infection/vaccination. Therefore, each arriving student should be treated as a single household and be kept apart from others, even if other students arrive on the same flight/same day/come from the same country. The only exception to this would be if 2 or more students were actually from the same household in their usual non-UK residence, for example if they were siblings and had travelled together.

If students from different households are treated as being one household and held together in the same isolation household it is possible that transmission will occur between them if one person is already incubating COVID-19 when they arrive in the UK. This increases the risk of introduction of new variants.

Wherever possible, each student (or household group, for example in the case of siblings) should be transported separately from the port of entry to their designated isolation facility at their school or setting. If this is not practical then attention to detail is needed. The boarding school or setting’s travel representative who is responsible for transport should ensure:

  • appropriate social distancing (at least 2 metres) is maintained at all times
  • students wear face coverings (unless aged under 11 or otherwise exempt)
  • good hand hygiene is maintained by ensuring a plentiful supply of alcohol hand gel
  • in coaches, 3 rows of seats are allowed between students and the driver
  • good ventilation within the vehicle through regularly opening windows at appropriate times during the journey (air should not be recirculated)
  • that transport does not stop at any services (including at request of passenger), unless in an emergency such as fire
  • where a long journey necessitates toilet breaks, these stops should be prearranged with facilities that should be exclusively for the use of the travelling students for the duration of the stop and can be cleaned afterwards before being used again (schools and settings may want to make arrangements with other schools and settings to use facilities if needed en route)
  • the destination school or setting is notified around 20 minutes prior to arrival so they can prepare for the arrival
  • students disembark in a socially distanced manner and are transferred to the care of the school or setting’s staff.

On arrival at the school or setting, a one-way system should be established along paths that take red list country students to the household areas where they will isolate. Staff facilitating arrival should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, and maintain strict social distancing. A clear system should handle the arrival of multiple red list country students at once and ensure the students are kept separate at all times.

Isolation in the boarding school or setting’s accommodation

Red list country students must isolate for 10 days beginning with the day after the day on which they were last in the red list country (this requirement may be extended under circumstances set out below). For example, the last day of isolation for a person who left a red list country on 1 September, would be 11 September.

Positive tests, inconclusive tests or a delay in test results from the COVID-19 test package may lead to an extension of the isolation period (see ‘Ending isolation’ below).

During the period of isolation, red list country students must not be outside of the premises at which they are isolating, save for certain limited exceptions.

Students should isolate in accommodation that comprises of residential facilities organised by the school or setting in Wales that the student is due to attend on their arrival in Wales. The accommodation in which a student isolates should be physically self-contained.

For the purposes of isolation, a mainstream boarding school, or a college or university accommodation block is usually considered a ‘household’. However, in the case of students travelling from red list countries individual students should isolate separately from other students unless they are from the same household in their usual non-UK residence, for example if they are siblings and have travelled together.

Following the end of their isolation period, schools and settings should continue to manage all red list country students in line with the operational guidance and have regard to the guidance for independent boarding schools, colleges and universities, as appropriate.

Rooms should have individual ventilation systems (for example room or window fan coil units that do not recirculate to other parts of the building) or windows that open (safely). Alternatively, the accommodation should have a non-recirculating ventilation system that permits redirection of the airflow from areas outside the area in which a student is isolating, into that area.

The school or setting should put in place COVID-19 secure arrangements to bring meals and other essential commodities, such as toiletries, to the individual students where isolation is occurring.

The school or setting should put in place COVID-19 secure arrangements for cleaning rooms, changing bedding, handling laundry and disposing of waste. 

The school or setting should ensure that isolating red list country students have separate bathrooms, use their own individual towels, both for drying after bathing or showering and for hand hygiene purposes.

During the period of their isolation, red list country students should not be permitted to use communal facilities, including common rooms.

The school  or setting should also put in place appropriate arrangements for the collection and treatment of laundry and waste from each isolating student. This should prevent unnecessary contact between staff and the student. In addition:

  • staff should wear appropriate PPE (for example face coverings, aprons, gloves, eye protection) when handling laundry from isolating red list country students. Laundry should be treated as infectious and double-bagged, should be tagged with the care area and date, and stored in a designated, safe lockable area while awaiting laundering (hot wash at 60˚C)
  • all consumable waste items that have been in contact with isolating students, including used tissues, should be put in a plastic rubbish bag, double-bagged and tied. This should be disposed of with normal household rubbish after a wait of 24 hours

See further detailed guidance on how to isolate, including permitted reasons for temporarily leaving isolation.

Supervising and supporting red list country students during isolation

Schools and Settings should ensure that red list country students adhere to isolation requirements. Schools and iSettings should provide age-appropriate information and support to the red list country students (especially neurodiverse students) about how they need to behave while in isolation, as well as how they will access services and contact staff when help is required.

It is important for the wellbeing of the red list country students that the school or setting promotes regular communication via telephone and internet with friends and family throughout the period of the students’ isolation, and that students can access outdoor areas provided that they are within the premises at which they are isolating and supervised.

Schools and Settings should:

  • ensure red list country students follow the guidance on how to isolate when they arrive in Wales
  • put in place arrangements for the oversight of red list country students in isolation that protect the safety and welfare of all students and staff, minimising the staff who interact with the red list country students
  • provide red list country students with clear rules (based on this guidance and linked guidance) as to what is expected and acceptable during their isolation period. This should include a clear statement of the area that the red list country students are allowed to occupy (for example an area including their room and toilet/bathroom facilities that are for their use while isolating at the boarding school and no one else’s)
  • provide red list country students with as much age-appropriate information as will be helpful for them to understand the practicalities of being in isolation, such as arrangements for meals, room cleaning, disposing of rubbish, laundry, processes for requesting and enjoying outdoor exercise and emergency procedures. Rules and information should be provided verbally and in writing
  • have procedures in place, agreed in advance with parents/carers, setting out what the school or setting will do in the case of an emergency.

Other relevant considerations for boarding schools

Independent boarding schools are required to meet the Independent School Standards as set out in the Independent School Standards (Wales) Regulations 2003. There is no disapplication of these requirements or other relevant legislation in relation to isolating red list country students. This includes having regard to ‘Keeping learners safe’. All boarding schools are required to meet conditions of registration under the Education Act 2002.

Specifically, the Independent School Standards require proprietors of independent boarding schools to ensure that arrangements are made:

  • to safeguard and promote the welfare of students and boarders accommodated at their school
  • to ensure that relevant health and safety laws are complied with
  • to ensure that students are properly supervised by staff and that the welfare of students is safeguarded by the effective implementation of risk assessment policies

The Welsh Government considers that a failure to have regard to the guidance in this document, or to follow it, may be indicative of a breach of the Independent School Standards.

The Welsh Government will ask Estyn and the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) to consider this guidance when assessing a boarding school’s compliance with the relevant Independent School Standards.

If any independent school fails to meet the requirements of the Independent School Standards, regulatory and enforcement action will be considered.

Boarding schools that are licenced student sponsors must continue to adhere to the ‘Student sponsor guidance’. The Home Office will consider what action is appropriate, in accordance with the policy, if any regulatory action is taken by the Welsh Government that indicates one or more of the sponsorship requirements or duties are not being met. This may include suspending or permanently removing a school’s ability to sponsor student visas and child student visas.


Students will have encountered different experiences and home environments. All staff should be reminded of their safeguarding duties as laid out by the statutory safeguarding guidance for education settings ‘Keeping learners safe’, and by the Wales Safeguarding Procedures.

The role of the designated safeguarding person (DSP) will be vital, and all students should be informed of who the DSP is and how to contact them. Accessing a trusted adult, or the DSP, may be more difficult while in isolation, so schools and settings should consider how this could be done.

The Welsh Government has produced a non-statutory guide for practitioners working across agencies to remind them of their responsibilities to safeguard learners and to support them in responding to concerns about learners at risk. The guide links to, and should be used with, the national Wales Safeguarding Procedures.

Testing red list country students

As outlined above, red list country students will need to have booked a COVID-19 testing package. Staff should collect new test kits when red list country students arrive and put them in storage (ensuring storage is at an appropriate temperature: 5°C to 22°C). Schools and settings should have a plan setting out which students will receive test kits on which day.

When required, staff should collect test kits from storage and deliver them to red list country students within their household accommodation. After students have completed the test, staff should collect the test kit, ensure it is labelled correctly, put it into a box, and close and seal the box for transport, ensuring no opportunities arise for cross-contamination between different test kits. They should not handle the test kit further before collection, when it should be passed to the courier. 

Students should normally complete the test themselves, following the instructions. Where necessary, particularly in the case of younger students, this should be under supervision to ensure the kit is handled and administered correctly. Therefore, staff should familiarise themselves with test kit instructions so that they can provide appropriate support where needed.

Visitors to red list country students in isolation

Red list country students in isolation from red list countries should not receive visitors, except in exceptional circumstances. If it is necessary for social workers, other children’s social care staff, medical staff or other professionals to engage with a child, they should consider in the first instance if this can be done remotely. Where this is not possible or appropriate and visits are unavoidable, the operational guidance should be followed.

Leaving isolation under exceptional circumstances

Red list country students must not leave the accommodation in which they are in isolation until their full isolation period has ended (see below), except in very limited circumstances. The headteacher, principal or vice-chancellor (or in their absence their deputy) is responsible for making a decision about when this is appropriate, for example:

  • if there is a legal obligation for the student to leave (for example to attend court)
  • to seek medical assistance where this is required urgently or on the advice of a registered medical practitioner
  • to avoid injury, illness or to escape a risk of harm (for example situations such as fire or flooding or where there is a risk of abuse)
  • to access critical public services including social services or services provided to victims (for example critical access such as for a child to see their social worker)

Ending isolation

Red list country students must serve the full 10 days’ isolation. If they test positive during that time they will be required to isolate for a further 10 days (with the day after the test was taken counting as day 1 of the isolation).

If the result of the red list country student’s day 8 test is inconclusive they must stay in isolation until they take an additional test and receive a negative result.

Once isolation is over, the red list country student is no longer required to follow the restrictions set out in this guidance. However, schools should continue to manage all red list country students in line with the operational guidance.

If the red list country student develops symptoms after leaving isolation then they need to be managed as any other student developing symptoms.

Risk assessments

Schools and settings should undertake their own risk assessments about how to isolate red list country students safely. The safeguarding and wellbeing of the student is paramount. Each individual student should have their own impact assessment undertaken by the school. Fire safety risk assessments should be updated to consider the need for social distancing on evacuation, and risk assessments for completing emergency repairs and maintenance should consider the need for social distancing. Schools and settings can seek advice from Public Health Wales’ local health protection team if needed.


Red list country students isolating at a school’s boarding facilities or college or university accommodation, in contrast with other residential settings, may need to have staff and other professionals arriving and leaving the wider premises during the period of isolation.

Where possible, schools and settings should operate a consistent staff rota to minimise the risk of transmission. The rota should avoid individual staff having contact with multiple isolating students. Staff should follow careful infection control measures during and after visits to the wider premises, in the same way as any isolating household would if they had unavoidable visitors.

Staff who are non-resident, visiting or partially resident and who travel between an affected setting and their own home will need to pay particular attention to careful infection prevention and control, including social distancing, hand and respiratory hygiene.

Any staff member who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), or has someone in their household who has developed symptoms or tests positive, should cease working immediately and isolate.

Staff working with red list country students who are isolating will be supplied with lateral flow device (LFD) test kits to self-swab and test themselves once per day at home. Staff should report their result in line with the instructions. Staff should also share their result, whether void, positive or negative, with their school to help with contact tracing. Staff with a positive LFD test result will need to self-isolate immediately in line with the self-isolation guidance. They will also need to arrange a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to confirm the result if the test was done at home. Those with a negative LFD test result can continue to attend school or work and use protective measures.

Staff working with red list country students who are isolating will be supplied with test kits to undertake a PCR test once a week and submit it for analysis in accordance with the instructions.

You should refer to the operational guidance in relation to all engagement with red list country students in isolation. This includes arrangements where a child or young person who is showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or who has tested positive requires staff contact for personal care.


Where schools or settings wish to commence the education of any isolating students, this may only be done where it would be consistent with the student maintaining their isolation, which would be through remote learning.

Booking a testing package through Corporate Travel Management (CTM)

CTM is the booking agent for NHS Wales Test Trace Protect tests, which are processed through the UK Lighthouse labs network.

Wales is using NHS tests, rather than private tests, because they are processed by NHS laboratories and results are sent directly into NHS Wales’ systems. This helps identify any harmful variants and makes contact tracing easier.

  • Before arriving in the UK red list country students are required to book and pay for a test package via the booking portal. Arrivals from a county on the red list must take a coronavirus test on day 2, and again on day 8
  • Tests should be booked via the Wales fully vaccinated or non-vaccinated amber country sections
  • Following either the fully vaccinated or non-vaccinated Wales links takes the red list country student to the Wales booking page where they will need to choose ‘other exemption from quarantine hotel (amber)’ in the country drop down box
  • If the red list country student is not arriving into Cardiff airport, but coming via an English route, then they need to choose ‘other’ in the Arrival Port drop down 
  • If the red list country student books under either route (vaccinated or non-vaccinated) and uses that exemption in the drop down box, they will automatically be asked to book 2 tests
  • Using the Wales links also ensures they are booking the NHS PCR tests as required in the Wales regulations
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