Since the onset of the COVID-19 global pandemic, all five schools under the umbrella of Swiss Education Group have acted quickly to respond to this unprecedented situation, adapt accordingly, and ensure the safety and well-being of all staff and students.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first started making headlines, a dedicated SEG Executive team alongside Campus Management teams began monitoring the situation closely and liaising with the relevant Swiss health authorities.
As early as January, campuses were equipped with masks and disinfectant solutions. Since then, over 62,000 face masks, 850 litres of disinfectant solution units, and nearly 10,000 gloves have been purchased.
I believe students felt very safe when they saw the preventative actions we were taking. At the end of January, when we started hearing about Covid-19 in China, we foresaw the crisis reaching us, even before Switzerland did, we acted very quickly. We made sure that we purchased the necessary materials so that we would be ready to face the crisis
Kai Janotta, Director of Operations at SHMS-IHTTI Caux campus.
At the beginning of the new semester in February, students’ temperatures were checked on a daily basis and students were monitored for any symptoms of illness. Staff and students were asked to wash their hands regularly and to avoid shaking hands. Routine temperature checks were performed, and when in doubt, suspect cases were isolated. These preventative measures have paid off and, until today, there have been no cases of Covid-19 on any of the campuses.
Supporting students throughout lockdown
When the Swiss Federal Government announced their decision in March to close all schools and educational institutions, Swiss Education Group and all five schools followed suit and suspended all in-person classes immediately.
If most of the 6,000+ students made the decision to return to their home countries, 500 chose to remain on campus, after careful consideration and discussion with their family. Students from all schools were accommodated on Caux, Leysin, and Le Bouveret campuses, while the Montreux, Brig, and Lucerne campuses were closed.
The reason I decided to stay in Switzerland was based on the advice I got from my father, who said I would be safer here than back home. It was the best decision I could have ever made
Sandanathi Mashita (South Africa), student at Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland, Le Bouveret.
For Xuefei Zhou (China), a student at HIM Hotel Institute Montreux, academic considerations also played a role in her decision: "My parents and I felt that the school was taking good care of students and that Switzerland was safe. I only have one term left before I graduate and I didn’t want to delay my studies."
Enforcing safety measures and protocols
Taking care of students means that campuses have committed to rigorously following the Swiss federal protocols.
One way to ensure continued protection of students and staff has been to restrict entrances in order to monitor every single person entering campus.
Temperature checkpoints have also been set up where students and staff receive a bracelet after the mandatory daily temperature check. Rooms are cleaned and disinfected regularly, and linen is changed once a week or more when necessary. Floor signage has been put in place all over campuses to indicate safe distances to maintain at the temperature checkpoint stations, the front desk, the cafeteria, etc. Floor plans have also been completely rearranged to allow for social distancing, for example in the dining areas.
For students who would like to eat in their rooms, takeaway service has been made possible.
Taking care of one another
Student counsellors have also been available 24/7 to support and assist staff and students.
I feel very comfortable and confident in the school, all the teachers have been there for us emotionally, we can always talk to them.
Sharon Vanessa (Indonesia), student at SHMS School of Hotel Management.
“The staff has ensured that we don’t panic, they have put rules in place without instilling fear. Teachers have made sure we know that they are there for us, both inside and outside of class”, shares Sandanathi Mashita.
The situation has also led students to deepen their relationships with one another and to look out for each other. “The lockdown has helped me to get closer to my friends”, adds Sharon Vanessa.
Some students have even reached out to the wider community. One positive expression of this has been the initiative from staff and students from Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland in Le Bouveret to prepare homemade chocolate boxes for the medical staff at a regional hospital.
A well-founded confidence
As a result of the extraordinary preventative measures put in place and the care received from staff, students have felt safe throughout the crisis and feel confident about the future.
I want to welcome back students who are going to come back soon! It is really safe in the school and you don’t have to worry!
Angelina Xian (China), student at SHMS School of Hotel Management.
Students will be able to travel to Switzerland for the July term, which starts on 6th July 2020. Students can also choose to remain in their home countries and follow the academic programme via the Virtual Learning Environment. Depending on their personal circumstances or restricted travel arrangements, students will be able to choose from both options.
For any questions regarding the current situation, please check out our Q+A page.