This is a mistake.
Potentially, a huge mistake for the safety of students, faculty, homestay hosts and others involved directly in international education. If there is an outbreak, schools would have to close entirely due to the health risk - and the financial and reputation damage would be enormous.
It all starts with the Canadian department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. It requires a 14-day quarantine, but leaves it up to each individual to develop their own quarantine plan. It simply indicates that those who are quarantined must have access to food and medications.
Compare that to South Korea, which mandates self-quarantine and monitors each person's location through a phone app. Individuals must complete a self-diagnosis twice a day and submit it via the app.
Diego Sanchez of Languages Canada told an ICEF webinar last week that the organization has developed a self-quarantine template for its member schools to provide to their incoming students. While this may meet the IRCC requirements, is it sufficient?
In international education, programs are dealing with students who are mostly in their late teens or early 20s. Simply asking a young student to self-isolate at a hotel or other facility is not realistic. It will result in many socializing with other students or going out to in public to shop or look around. We can't expect every student to respect the rules - especially given the lengthy 14-day isolation.
Some homestay programs are asking hosts to supervise the 14-day self-isolation period when students arrive. For example, Canada Homestay Network has set up a complete protocol that both students and hosts should follow. While this requires hosts take on extra responsibilities, it does ensure that the quarantine is carefully monitored. This works!
Programs need to step up and ensure that every student's quarantine is safe for both them and for other students, faculty and staff members at your program. This will require strict protocols and supervision. It's the least we can ask to protect everyone involved in international education - and the general public.