- Will homestay hosts be willing to take students even as pandemic worries continue?
- How can programs ensure both host and student safety?
The Canada Homestay Network, the nation's largest homestay organization, recently surveyed hosts across Canada to find out how they are feeling about hosting during the outbreak.
Asked whether they would be willing to take an international student this fall, 74 percent of hosts said yes. A further 16 percent said "maybe", depending on the state of the pandemic at the time and other factors. Only 10 percent said they did not want a student.
"We found the survey quite encouraging since we were afraid some hosts would not want to take an international student," says Jennifer Wilson, Managing Director of CHN.
With the Canadian government requiring a 14-day quarantine for incoming students, CHN asked hosts whether they would be willing to provide quarantine at their homes. Half said yes while a further 28 percent said it would depend on what country they were coming from or the pandemic conditions at the time.
"Given that there is expected to be a decrease in the number of students coming to Canada, it appears that we will have enough hosts to meet the need for both quarantine and ongoing hosting," Wilson says.
CHN will pay hosts $25 per day for the quarantine (a total of $350 for the 14 days). That's in addition to the regular homestay fee of approximately $30 per day. "It's a tall order to ask hosts to open up their home to someone who may be at risk, so we wanted to provide compensation," Wilson says. The quarantine fee will help hosts cover the cost of cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.
CHN has been working with the Canadian Association of Public Schools - International (CAPS-I) to establish a Safe Arrival Protocol for both students and hosts. This covers everything from pre-departure preparations to traveling from the airport to the host's home to cleaning procedures.
For example, it advises students: "Use a separate bathroom if possible. Clean the bathroom regularly with household cleaning products. Flush the toilet with the lid down."
Educating students will be a key to ensuring the success of the protocol. During the March lockdown, a number of hosts expressed concerns that some students were not respecting the rules.
CHN is talking to its education partners (high schools, language schools, colleges and universities) to make sure that students understand the importance of the protocol and of ongoing safety measures once the quarantine is completed.
Of course, this all depends on the state of the pandemic in the coming months and whether it will be safe to travel to Canada. Ultimately, that decision is in the hands of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.