Wednesday 11th March 2020
Families may have concerns about school children’s visits (SCVs) and the impact that coronavirus may have on these and also on allowances, especially with regards to the Easter holidays.
Policymakers have now advised that interim arrangements for SCVs in response to coronavirus (COVID-19) have been made. They are effective immediately and will remain in place until further notice. Please see the FAQ section below for further detail.
It is important for families to make sure that they have appropriate guardian arrangements in place in the UK.
Parents or guardians are responsible for the welfare of children attending boarding school in the UK, including during SCVs. Parents should keep up to date with guidance published by the UK Government as well as any host nation guidance and arrangements to make decisions on SCVs.
What if a service person (SP) decides that their child should not travel to the overseas area on a SCV and wishes to arrange a reverse SCV instead?
The regulations at JSP 752 10.0228 already allow for a reverse visit for one parent for reasons of child welfare. Should a parent consider this to be the preferred option for them during the coronavirus outbreak, then a reverse SCV can be authorised in lieu of one of the SCVs for each eligible child. This is in addition to the reverse visit already allowed for welfare reasons which may already have been taken or which may be required later in the academic year.
What if a SP has already booked a SCV flight for a child to the overseas area but the coronavirus situation changes and they need to cancel the flight because of official advice?
If it is necessary to change travel plans because of official advice from the UK Government, advice from the children’s school or from their local Commanding Officer or the Government of the country to which they are assigned, then flights can be cancelled and the costs of the cancelled flight will be met by the MOD. The SCV can then be re-arranged for a later date or a reverse SCV can be authorised instead.
What if a SP has already booked a SCV flight for a child to the overseas area but due to the coronavirus situation they would prefer to cancel the SCV?
In this scenario, where the decision was based on preference rather than any official advice, parents could decide to cancel the SCV flights and MOD would meet the cost of the cancelled flights. However, this would count as one of the child’s SCVs.
What if a child travels to the overseas area on a SCV but cannot return following the Easter holiday because of official travel advice, school closure or an isolation period has been imposed?
In this scenario, parents could decide to cancel the flight back to the UK and re-arrange for a later date once the school re-opens or travel advice changes. Any cost incurred in the cancellation and re-booking would be met by the MOD.
What if a parent travels to the UK on a reverse SCV but cannot return to the overseas area following the Easter holiday because of official travel advice or an isolation period has been imposed?
In this scenario, parents would be permitted to cancel the flight back to the UK and re-arrange for a later date once the official advice permitted travel. Any cost incurred in the cancellation and re-booking would be met by the MOD.
What if a reverse SCV to the UK has been booked but a change to the situation in UK means that the SP would prefer their child to travel to the overseas assignment area?
If it is necessary to change travel plans because of advice from the UK Government, advice from the children’s school or from their local Commanding Officer or the Government of the country to which they are assigned, then flights can be cancelled and the costs of the cancelled flight will be met by the MOD. If appropriate, a SCV could then be arranged for the child instead.
What if a child cannot travel to the overseas assignment area due to official travel advice and the parent cannot travel to the UK due to official travel advice?
The cost of return travel from the child’s school to a guardian’s address in the UK may be claimed in accordance with JSP 752 10.0211, less the normal parental contribution.
Can a SP claim subsistence if they are visiting UK on a reverse SCV and cannot return to the overseas area due to travel restrictions, an imposed isolation period or due to closure of their child’s school?
There is no entitlement to subsistence or hotel costs during reverse SCVs. Any questions from displaced families should be directed through Chain of Command who will provide advice on assistance in these circumstances.
If a spouse returns to the UK on a reverse SCV and remains in the UK for an extended period, what effect would this have on accompanied status and overseas allowances?
In accordance with JSP 752 Annex A to Section 1 of Chapter 2, when a service person’s spouse/civil partner is absent from the family home for an extended period, there may be a requirement for an assessment of a service person’s accompanied status in order to assess eligibility for expenses and allowances. The exceptional circumstances relating to coronavirus will be taken into account when making any assessment.
The above should be read alongside JSP 752 Chapter 10 Section 2 – School Children’s Visits.