Gotoco Camp China

Coronavirus Updates

Coronavirus Update, 2nd October 2020


Summary


  • Applications for summer 2021 now open
  • COVID-19 is under control in China and we expect international travellers to be welcomed safely into the country in 2021
  • Summer 2020 offers deferred to 2021 (deadline for confirming deferral is 15 March 2021)
  • We will keep you updated on COVID-19’s impact on summer 2021 programming throughout the year
  • Refundable deposits for summer 2021 give you immediate access to our online TEFL training
  • Refundable deposits are fully protected and you will be able to request a refund if COVID-19 disrupts your plans (as long as you have not completed your online TEFL certification, more info below)

All of us here at Gotoco would like to thank you again for your continued support and understanding over the summer during turbulent times as the world has tried to get to grips with the COVID-19 pandemic. As a new academic year begins, we want to provide you with clarity on our programmes for summer 2021 to allow you to plan for the year ahead.


Applications for summer 2021 are now open!


COVID-19 is under control in China and we were very pleased to see our partner camps and schools running programmes around the country in July and August to give children a much-needed break from online learning and to allow them to do fun activities in the summer months. Our partners very much missed welcoming Gotoco’ers though and can’t wait to see you all again in 2021!


While China’s borders are still closed to most international visitors, they have now opened for foreign nationals holding valid residence permits. We expect the borders to open for Gotoco’ers before summer 2021 and will keep working with our partners in China to make our programmes safe for you. We will keep you up-to-date on government announcements throughout the coming months and will ensure you have all the information you need every step of the way.


When you pay your refundable deposit for summer 2021, you will gain immediate access to our online TEFL training and can complete it and gain certification ahead of your trip to China. You can then use this certificate for teaching online to earn funds during the school year. When in China, you will then complete the offline teaching practicum to upgrade your TEFL to our full 120-hour certificate that you can use for jobs around the world.


Your refundable deposit is fully protected and if you are unable to join us in China in summer 2021 after paying your deposit and you have not completed the online TEFL certification, then you will be able to defer to summer 2022 or request a refund.


Please check out the FAQs below for more information.


All of us here at Gotoco hope you, your family, and friends are all keeping safe and well during the global pandemic. 


Best wishes,


Richard, Lisha, Danny, and all the Gotoco Team


FAQs


Yes! Applications for 2021 are open now and run on a rolling basis throughout the academic year. The sooner you apply the better as places tend to fill up quickly! Full info available on this link.

Your refundable deposit is fully protected and if you are unable to join us in China in summer 2021 after paying your deposit due to COVID-19 and you have not completed the online TEFL certification, then you will be able to defer to summer 2022 or request a refund of your deposit.


We are always here to help and if you ever have any concerns, just email us ([email protected]) to chat to one of our team.


COVID-19 is under control in China and we were very pleased to see our partner camps and schools running programmes around the country in July and August 2020 to give children a much-needed break from online learning and to allow them to do fun activities in the summer months. Our partners very much missed welcoming Gotoco’ers though and can’t wait to see you all again in 2021!


While China’s borders are still closed to most international visitors, they have now opened for foreign nationals holding valid residence permits. We expect the borders to open for Gotoco’ers before summer 2021 and will keep working with our partners in China to make our programmes safe for you. We will keep you up-to-date on government announcements throughout the coming months and will ensure you have all the information you need every step of the way.

COVID-19 is currently under control in China (6 October 2020) and we were very pleased to see our partner camps and schools running programmes around the country in July and August to give children a much-needed break from online learning and to allow them to do fun activities in the summer months. Our partners very much missed welcoming Gotoco’ers though and can’t wait to see you all again in 2021!


While China’s borders are still closed to most international visitors, they have now opened for foreign nationals holding valid residence permits. We expect the borders to open for Gotoco’ers before summer 2021 and will keep working with our partners in China to make our programmes safe for you. We will keep you up-to-date on government announcements throughout the coming months and will ensure you have all the information you need every step of the way.


Here are some sources we recommend for keeping up-to-date on the COVID-19 situation in China:


If you have any questions, then contact us by email!


Yes! If you paid your deposit to join us in China for summer 2020, then your place is deferred to summer 2021 and you can access the online TEFL materials now. To confirm your deferral, please just go to this link.


If you definitely can’t make it in summer 2021 and don’t want to benefit from our TEFL now, then you can withdraw your application on this link. We’ll still be here to help you plan a trip to China in future, and can always be contacted by email if you have any questions—we’ve lived in China for a decade and are always very happy to help others explore this fascinating country!


The deadline for confirming your deferral or cancelling your place is 15 March 2021. We have extended this deadline as long as possible to give you time to decide what you would like to do next summer in the new year.


Yep! If you have paid deferred your summer 2020 offer or paid your deposit for summer 2021, then you can access the TEFL documents here.


If you haven’t yet paid a deposit but would like to do the online TEFL training, then you can do so on this link. We’ve made the TEFL available widely now to help those looking for online teaching jobs during the pandemic.


Our online TEFL is a valuable certificate for securing online tutoring jobs and for showing other employers your range of skills and interests. You can complete the online TEFL now and receive the 50-hour online certificate. In future when you join us on a programme in China and complete the required hours teaching practicum on the ground in a school, then you will be able to upgrade to the full 120-hour TEFL, that you can use for TEFL jobs and visas around the world. Practicum TEFL certifications of this sort usually cost a lot of money, but we provide it to Gotoco’ers fully-funded by programmes in China. We want to continue to provide the online training to you in advance of your trip to China so that you can benefit from it now and be prepared for when you get to China.


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Coronavirus Update, 29th May 2020


All of us here at Gotoco hope you, your family, and friends are all keeping safe and well during this unusual and difficult period of global pandemic.  This is a challenging time for everyone and we appreciate your continued patience and positivity while we have been working to make our summer camps possible this year.


Summary


  • All 2020 summer offers automatically extended to summer 2021
  • Instant access to our TEFL training and certification for summer 2020 offer holders
  • Many summer programmes in China are going ahead following containment efforts there, but foreign nationals cannot enter China yet due to the on-going global pandemic 
  • Therefore, summer 2020 start dates are postponed until further notice (more detail on this and deposit return requests below)


All 2020 Summer Offers Extended to Summer 2021 + Instant Access to our TEFL Training and Certification!

At present, China has successfully contained the spread of COVID within its borders, while many countries around the world, including in Europe and North America, are sadly still struggling. As a result, China’s borders are currently closed to foreign travellers, meaning that it is very unlikely that Gotoco’ers will be able to join summer programmes before August at the earliest, despite our partners across China making plans for the safe running of their camps (see FAQ below for more information). To ameliorate this situation, we are now extending all Gotoco China Summer 2020 offers to 2021.

Moreover, so that everyone who has paid a deposit can receive the training they applied to us for, we have decided to offer Gotoco’ers access to our online TEFL training and certification course from today. This allows Gotoco’ers to gain an online TEFL certificate now, which you can use for online tutoring and for showing your skills on your CV. It also means all Gotoco’ers can rest assured that you have a guaranteed offer to join us in China in Winter 2020-21 (December-January) or Summer 2021 (June-September), if COVID-19 means you are unable or unwilling to travel to China this year. Please go to this form to access the TEFL documents.

As your offer is now guaranteed for summer 2021, you may wish to make other plans for this year and join us in 2021 instead, and we completely understand that. Your deposit remains valid for Gotoco summer programmes until October 2021, and you do not need to do anything at this point to confirm your deferral—your offer is automatically extended. However, as mentioned, you will need to first go to this form to access the TEFL documents.


We will notify you immediately if any programmes are able to go ahead in summer 2020, and you will be able to choose at that point if you would like to join the programmes this year or continue to wait until 2021. 


If you know you won’t be able to join us in 2020 or 2021 and want to withdraw fully from the programme now, you can do so on this link.


For more detail on all of this, please read the FAQs below.


Thank you all for your positivity and support


We have been very grateful for all your positivity and support during this very challenging time for everyone. Despite the difficulties that our social enterprise, our partners, and all Gotoco’ers are facing, as well as the global obstacles for in-person cultural exchange, our team is hopeful that positive developments will eventually come from this period of global struggle. You can read more on our hopes for social progress in our April Coronavirus update below.


We are also working to create more resources for all Gotoco’ers to help everyone in our community prepare for fun and fulfilling future careers and to take part in meaningful cultural exchange. We will let you know more about these resources over the coming months, and look forward to sharing them all with you!


Our team is also here to answer any questions you have by email, so please do contact us if you have any queries.


We look forward to helping you visit China as soon as it is possible and safe to do so.


Thanks!


The Gotoco Team



FAQs


Currently, it is very unlikely that July programmes will be able to go ahead, and, due to this, we recommend that you make other plans closer to home for July. However, there are more positive signs for August and September programmes as life in China is returning to a new normal. We will make a final announcement:

  • on July programmes by 15th June 2020 latest
  • on August programmes by 16th July 2020 latest
  • on September programmes by mid-August at the latest 

On 27th March 2020 China suspended entry for all foreign nationals. If this travel ban is lifted and visa centres reopen, and our team of China experts confirm that our three requirements are met (as set out in our January update below), then we are ready to move forward with programme confirmations, visa processing and flight bookings. 

We are leaving the possibility of running the programmes open until the dates listed above because everyone on our team is very committed to creating meaningful people-to-people cultural exchange and adventure travel opportunities for all Gotoco’ers. As long as there is a chance to make the summer camps a reality for you, we will be here working hard to do so.

We appreciate that you might, however, want to decide on your participation now, which is why we have extended all offers until 2021, to give you the freedom to choose what you would like to do this summer, safe in the knowledge that you can join us in China at a later date.

We will notify you immediately if any programmes are able to go ahead in summer 2020, and you will be able to choose at that point if you would like to join the programmes this year or continue to wait until 2021. If you would prefer to withdraw fully now and give up your place for 2021, please go to this link for more information.

You can gain access to our TEFL course by filling in the form on this link.

Our online TEFL is a valuable certificate for securing online tutoring jobs and for showing other employers your range of skills and interests. You can complete the online TEFL now and receive the 50-hour online certificate. In future when you join us on a programme in China and complete the required hours teaching practicum on the ground in a school, then you will be able to upgrade to the full 120-hour TEFL, that you can use for TEFL jobs and visas around the world. Practicum TEFL certifications of this sort usually cost a lot of money, but we provide it to Gotoco’ers fully-funded by programmes in China. We want to continue to provide the online training to you in advance of your trip to China so that you can benefit from it now and be prepared for when you get to China—this year or next.

It is great to see that life in Beijing is returning to a new normal, with restaurants, bars, parks, and more re-opening. Over the next few weeks we will be documenting what life is like in China’s capital on Instagram (@gotocochina), starting with a series by Tristan Knotts, a member of our team. This week, you can see the cycle trips he’s been going on around the Great Wall, the Western Hills, and the small alleyways (hutongs) in old Beijing near our office—head over to Instagram to find out more. 

As life returns to normal in Beijing, our partners across China are starting to plan their summer camps and to ensure they can run safely for everyone involved, in line with global, national, and local guidelines. If travel bans are lifted and our experts confirm programmes are safe to join, then we will notify you and discuss your options for travelling to China with you. 

Due to the on-going global pandemic, we do not deem it safe to launch new projects or partnerships in other countries. Due to restrictions on travel, our team cannot currently check that the camps would be safe for you to join and we would not be able to guarantee that you’d have the usual rewarding and fun Gotoco experience. For this reason, we are not launching any new projects in new countries this year, but we will update you when we do in future years!

We appreciate that this is a very difficult time for everyone and that some of you will not be able to travel to China in 2021 and know you can no longer go this summer.

If you know you won’t be able to join us in China in 2020 or 2021 and you do not want access to our TEFL training, you can go to this link to let us know and to request a deposit return. We thank you again for your patience and understanding in this challenging period, which none of us could have imagined when you first applied to our Summer 2020 Programme.

If travel restrictions are lifted and it is safe for programmes to go ahead, but you are no longer able to come to China because your funding for the trip has been undermined, please let us know by email and we will look at how we can help you.

If it is a university funding issue, we will talk to your university on your behalf and demonstrate our emergency planning and track record and work to get your funding reinstated on a case-by-case basis.

If the issue is to do with lost earnings, please note we also have limited funding available to those that join our campus ambassador team, if you are successful in applying for a place on this then you could get funded through our scholarship budget.

It is great to hear that you are interested in joining us in 2021 and completing the online TEFL now! If you would like to do so, please email us at [email protected] so that we can discuss your options with you.

Applications remain open if you would like to secure your place for 2021 now and gain access to the TEFL. We will review applications on a rolling basis, and we encourage you to contact us before applying so that we can make sure you’re clear on the options available to you.

Sources to stay tuned to

Other than the Gotoco team, we advise you to check out the following:

There are tech tools and links to reliable information in this handbook

https://coronavirustechhandbook.com/

The British Chamber of Commerce in China

Excellent local news source that avoids sensationalism and provides updates on the real situation

https://www.thebeijinger.com/blog/2020/01/22/coronavirus-count-in-beijing

Medical assessment of the situation from January summarising some key points

https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.01.23.20018549v1.full.pdf

Global authorities:

USA state department:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/china-travel-advisory.html

USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/summary.html

World Health Organisation:

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office:

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/china

For those with knowledge of China, WeChat is a great resource for staying tuned with situations in various cities.

Sources to avoid: 

As ever please avoid any Tabloid press (Daily Mail, Express, Sun, Mirror etc), and other websites that need to compete for clicks.

Social media tends not to give an accurate representation, there is a tendency for people to enjoy ‘marking yourself safe’ or videos with no context or accurate explanations to share the publicity generated by crises such as this one. Twitter, Youtube, Facebook have been particularly bad.

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Coronavirus Update, 2nd April 2020


Everyone here at Gotoco hopes that you are keeping safe and well, wherever you are during this global struggle. Rays of hope come from China, where it appears the virus has been more-or-less contained for now, while countries that were perhaps slightly slow to respond (including in Europe and the US) are responding strongly now and beginning the mass mobilisations they need to swiftly peak their outbreaks.

2020 isn’t all bad news, major global traumas like this force massive shifts in how we live. The wake of World War II brought global and drastic social progress including moves towards:

  • Decolonisation
  • Democratisation
  • Women’s empowerment and liberation
  • And wonderful initiatives like the NHS in the UK.

So too will COVID reshape our societies. Concepts that were ideals last year are now credible and being shaped into policy around the world:

  • Exciting experiments have begun with the universal basic wage, such as this one in Spain.
  • Remote working is now widespread—how much better could our lives be if we can reduce commutes and unnecessary office hours through this to allow more time to cherish our families, friends, and hobbies?
  • The environment has been given breathing space, dolphins have been spotted in parts of Southern Italy in clearer seas, skies above polluted cities are clearer, some consumerism has been reduced and eating habits changed. We hope that consumer preferences may be radically altered once normality returns.
  • Forays into provision of free basic healthcare may change certain countries forever, and some people are now taking the health effects of smoking more seriously.
  • Education is moving online too; a milestone this week came when Eton, one of the UK’s oldest and most successful schools opted to offer free public access to their online learning:
  • There are fantastic developments in industry too, including Gotoco co-founder Danny Parrott’s own brother who is leading a revolution to make incredibly expensive intensive care equipment available to all (http://globalvent.org/). They have already begun to release free, open-source designs and to produce ventilators that can be made out of simple, locally available components by small factories all over the world. Once this pandemic ends, they will turn their attention to dialysis and other expensive ICU kit to make quality healthcare more accessible around the globe.

Though 2020 blind-sided the world with catastrophe, we are beginning to look beyond it. We hope that the light at the end of this tunnel may be that of a more equitable, co-operative, genuinely 21st century, modernised world.


So, what’s happening at Gotoco?

Like all of you, we are taking each day as it comes and staying abreast of updates as they come in. We were made aware of the gravity of this situation very early, back in January, when we had to turn our Beijing office into a remote team and evacuate winter camps teams! We have done our best to be very sensitive to the effects of the current pandemic and want to do everything we can to support our community.

As I’m sure you’re aware, the pandemic is having a limiting effect on global travel, and we want to make sure you’re up-to-date on how this affects your planned summer in China. Now is the beginning of April, there is still plenty of time left before summer, and we still aim to run as planned in summer 2020. Developments are coming so fast now that each day feels like a week; it took China 2 months to get through and re-open and we hope that the rest of the world can have a similar or even better trajectory. We hope the peak will soon pass in your countries so together we can plan for a summer of fun.


Coronavirus and your Summer in China

We currently still aim for our summer programmes to go ahead, especially given the effectiveness of containment of the virus in China. There are various restrictions in place limiting global travel at present, but we expect these to be resolved in time for the summer. On current projections, China looks like it will be the first country to completely contain COVID, so for anyone hoping to leave home this summer we think China is still a great plan!

The safety, health and enjoyment of all Gotoco’ers is of the utmost importance to us so we’ll keep monitoring the situation and will provide an update on if programmes can go ahead in May 2020 (or earlier if the situation allows). If there is a risk to health, then we won’t go ahead with summer programmes as we put our participants’ health and wellbeing first, and in that instance we would offer:

  1. an option to defer your place to another year with TEFL certification this year;
  2. alternative placements in other countries;
  3. the option to withdraw fully. However, we do not expect it to come to this and I encourage you to continue with the application as normal.

Your deposit is held with consumer protections in a secure system, it will be returned if the virus is still a problem in May 2020, please check this link for more info


Support your Community

Wherever you are in the world, we urge you to follow local government and health advice, including washing your hands regularly and practising social distancing, to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the pressure on healthcare providers. 

If you are able to, we also encourage you to volunteer to help those in need. If you’re in the UK, you can sign up to volunteer to help the NHS on this link: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS






Prior Updates from January-March 2020


Summary


We currently aim for all of our China summer programmes to go ahead as planned, and so you should continue with your application as normal. We will take a final decision in May 2020 (or earlier if the situation allows), and will keep all Gotoco’ers updated accordingly. 


Our Expectations


Due to the extensive government and public health response in China, we hope that the situation will improve sufficiently so that the following three conditions are met. Once these are met, we can give summer 2020 programmes the go-ahead:

1. The Foreign Office travel advisory against all but essential travel must have been lifted.

2. Our team of experts on the ground in China need to sign off that they believe it is safe to run programmes in China.

3. Our 100 or so partners around China need to give their assurance that projects will be safe and plans are in place to ensure the welfare of our teams. Moreover, even if the FCO, our experts and the partners all give the all-clear, partners must agree to emergency plans and evacuation budgets in case of unexpected future escalations/recurrence.

Support your Community

Wherever you are in the world, we urge you to follow local government and health advice, including washing your hands regularly and practising social distancing, to slow the spread of the virus and reduce the pressure on healthcare providers. 

If you are able to, we also encourage you to volunteer to help those in need. If you’re in the UK, you can sign up to volunteer to help the NHS on this link: https://www.goodsamapp.org/NHS

Please email us with any other queries.

Email: [email protected]

Best wishes,

The Gotoco Directors!

Richard Lloyd, Lisha Tang, Danny Parrott

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