The Canadian government's requirement for quarantine for arriving students is vital to ensure safety - but is posing challenges for international education programs. The Louis Riel School Division in Manitoba has announced that it will not be offering to quarantine students in homestays upon arrival.
"Students are welcome to come to our schools in September but they will need an alternate plan for the 14-day quarantine," says Tim MacKay, Director of the division's International Student Program. "Once they have completed quarantine, we will transition them to one of our homestays."
Since the students are minors and require adult supervision during quarantine, MacKay says different options are being suggested.
"Ideally, the student can travel to Canada with a parent (or adult chaperone) and both of them can spend the quarantine in a local hotel," he indicated. Alternatively, some agents are considering traveling with several students and supervising the quarantine in Canada.
MacKay said safety was a key factor in the division's decision not to have hosts quarantine students. "We felt we didn't have a clear sense of all the variables. We believed it would be more responsible to err on the side of caution. We want a robust system that will serve us for the long term and that will ensure the health and safety of everyone involved."
At Louis Riel, the expected number of students is down more than 50 percent compared to previous years. Usually, the division would be welcoming about 60 students seeking homestay; at this point, about 25 plan to come.
Louis Riel School Division is offering affected students the option of deferring their registration or receiving a full refund.
International education programs are taking a couple of different approaches to quarantine. Some, such as Canada Homestay Network, are asking host families to supervise quarantine for students. CHN is paying hosts an extra $25 per day to provide this service. Others plan to quarantine students in hotels and university residences, providing adult supervision.