Hosting & Covid19

Hosting Exchange Students during COVID19

COVID 19 – Advice for host families

As we are aware COVID-19 is an infectious disease that emerged in late 2019. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring hospitalisation. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems, are more likely to develop serious illness.

Symptoms

Most common symptoms:

  • fever
  • coughing
  • sore throat
  • shortness of breath

Other symptoms include:

  • runny nose
  • headache
  • muscle or joint pains
  • loss of sense of smell
  • altered sense of taste
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue

How it spreads                               

The virus can spread through:

  • close contact with an infectious person
  • contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
  • touching objects or surfaces that have droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.

Protecting the community through vaccination

Several safe and effective vaccines have been developed to prevent people from getting seriously ill from COVID-19.

Vaccination is an important step for people to protect themselves and the community against the virus. Student Exchange Australia New Zealand requires all local coordinators, host families and staff to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccination if it is considered safe for you to do so on the advice of a health practitioner.

Our COVID vaccine policy

Following regulatory directives, we do require all our host families to be fully vaccinated to host international students.

As per current international border requirements all our international exchange students arriving in Australia will be required to be fully vaccinated. The definition of “fully vaccinated” can be found here https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/atagi-advice-on-the-definition-of-fully-vaccinated and is in line with the Australian Federal Government rules for entering Australia.

This also negates any possibility of hotel quarantine, which we do not believe is appropriate for a person under the age of 18 years.

What happens if a student or host family member is unwell prior to arrival possibly due to COVID?

If a student is unwell and/or has been exposed to COVID-19 (through close contact or being in a hotspot), they will be required to postpone their arrival. They will need to provide a negative COVID test prior to arriving in the country.

If a host family member is unwell and/or has been exposed to COVID-19 (through close contact or being in a hotspot) it is Student Exchange Australia New Zealand's responsibility to assess the circumstances and apply the covid rules per the state jurisdiction of that host family (links below). Student Exchange Australia New Zealand will look for an alternative placement whilst the host family member either recovers from COVID-19 or has met the close contact testing rules per their state jurisdiction.  

International exchange students arriving in Australia

International exchange students will need to follow Australian Government health and border requirements, as well as guidelines from the state/territory government in which they will be studying.

As a general rule, anyone entering Australia must provide proof of RT COVID-19 vaccination/exemption and evidence of a negative COVID-19 Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test taken within 3 days prior to their flight’s scheduled departure.

What do I need to do to stay safe?

There are ways that we can all help stop the spread of viruses:

  1. Wash your hands often.
  2. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. If you do not have a tissue, cough, or sneeze into your bent elbow.
  3. Try not to touch your face.
  4. Do not shake hands.
  5. Stay home if you’re unwell.
  6. Social distance.
  7. Wear a medical face mask

Household cleaning is important

  • Ensure appropriate cleaning and disinfecting of the student’s room and communal areas is carried out prior to the commencement of each placement
  • Frequently clean and disinfect surfaces that are used often such as benchtops, desks, and doorknobs
  • Frequently clean and disinfect objects that are used often such as dishes, cutlery, remote controls, mobile phones, keys, wallets, and work passes
  • Increase the amount of fresh air by opening windows or changing air conditioning filters
  • Regular cleaning of the entire home is important to reduce the spread of germs

You can call the National Coronavirus Helpline at any time for advice and support on (Aus)1800 020 080

What happens if my students or a family member gets COVID?

As we move towards living with COVID, it is important that anyone who is unwell stays at home. All host family members should also continue to practise good hygiene. This applies to students as well.

If any host family member or student have cold or flu like symptoms seek medical advice and test for COVID-19. Anyone should get tested, even if your symptoms are mild. If any students test positive to COVID-19 you may be required to isolate and follow the directions of your local health authority. Please ensure you contact Student Exchange Australia New Zealand as soon as possible to advise of your situation. We will act as quickly as possible in line with the local governmental requirements around isolation.

All students are required to commit to COVID-safe practices to help safeguard the health and wellbeing of everyone in the host family.

As the transmission of COVID-19 may occur in a variety of ways and circumstances, and despite the best efforts and precautions taken, Student Exchange Australia New Zealand cannot be held responsible if a guest or member of a host family is exposed to COVID-19 during a placement, but it is our responsibility to provide adequate support.

How is Student Exchange Australia New Zealand supporting students, staff and the broader school community?

The health and safety of students, host families, staff and the broader community is our highest priority. It is our responsibility at Student Exchange Australia New Zealand to closely monitor the situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Student Exchange Australia New Zealand continues to prioritise and assist those directly affected as well as providing information to our wider community of students and host families.

This includes

  • Keeping up-to-date with information released by the Australian Government Department of Health, state and territory health departments, the World Health Organisation and Smartraveller.gov.au. Resources about the virus, precautionary measures, symptoms and what to do if someone falls ill have been included in our communications with hosts and students.
  • Working with our local coordinators, host families and international partners to manage the welfare requirements of students in line with the regulatory as well as local school’s health and safety measures.
  • Assisting students and host families if they need to change host family arrangements to suit new travel arrangements or school/homestay start dates.
  • Recommending students do what is appropriate to ensure they feel 100% comfortable and enjoy the host family experience.
  • Providing ongoing monitoring and support for students and host families if a homestay placement must include precautionary health and safety measures.
  • Encouraging host families to provide additional emotional support to our students and to be aware of culturally insensitive behaviour in their community
  • Providing 24/7 professionally staffed emergency line support for both our host families and students.

Please refer to Appendix A – Risk Management Strategy related to COVID for a detailed analysis on various hazard identifications, risks, consequences, existing controls in place and our response strategy.   

What further help is available?

We encourage you to contact us for assistance but or if you require external help if you are feeling uneasy or have concerns, please consider the following support groups below

Headspace : 1800 650 890

How to cope with stress related to COVID-19

Beyond Blue : 1800 512 348

Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service

Lifeline

Mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak

For further covid information below relating to each state and territory, please see the links below

https://www.covid19.act.gov.au
https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19
https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au
https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19
https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au
https://www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au
https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
https://www.wa.gov.au/government/covid-19-coronavirus

Disruptions due to COVID are inevitable as we live with the virus. At Student Exchange Australia New Zealand,  it is our full responsibility to support you and our student during this time.

If you have any questions or queries you are welcome to call us anytime.