We've all learned a lot through the last 18 months of the pandemic. In particular, the increasing vaccination rates in Western Europe and in countries around the world are changing the impact of corona on everyday life. Here's what your family needs to keep in mind now to host an au pair:
1. Start the stay with everyone healthy - use testing resources to be sure
It makes very good sense for everyone (your au pair and family members) to do a coronavirus test right at the beginning of the shared time together. This way you as the host family know that your new temporary family member is not bringing an infection into the household. And the au pair has the same important knowledge. Testing in many countries is now widely available. And quick-tests can also be purchased online and used at home fairly inexpensively.
If your new au pair needs to cross borders to get to your home, she or he will probably be required to present test results, whether an antigen quick test or the more rigorous PCR test. In any case, organise a plan for testing with your au pair as part of the preparation for the upcoming stay and carry it out together.
- Where and when will the au pair be tested?
- How will your family be tested?
- Who will pay for the au pair's test if payment is required?
2. Clarify vaccination status - and get everyone vaccinated if you can
Vaccinations against Covid-19 are also now widely available in many developed countries. As has been widely documented, vaccinations offer the best available protection against infection with the virus as well as the best protection against becoming seriously ill if you are infected. Therefore, everyone's risk is substantially reduced when adult host family members are vaccinated and the au pair as well. Many countries in Europe and elsewhere have also approved corona vaccinations for children age 12 and up.
A clear and open discussion about vaccination status should now be part of the general exchange of information leading up to the commencement of an au pair stay. Talk with your au pair about their vaccination status and tell them what the vaccination status is of your family members. If it is difficult for your au pair to get vaccinated in their country, then check on the possibilities for vaccination once the au pair arrives in your country.
3. Share information with your au pair about the pandemic situation in your country
As we all know from hundreds of news reports over the past months, the pandemic situation varies extremely from place to place. There are different rules and practices and different levels of infection to cope with depending where you are.
For this reason, it is very important for you as the host family to inform a new au pair in detail about what is happening in connection with corona in your locality:
- What are the rules regarding mask wearing and social distancing?
- Which public facilities are closed and which are open?
- What risk situations should your au pair be prepared for and pay special attention to?
It is easy to think that the everyday corona practices you have become used to in your own environment are the same as what your new au pair is accustomed to. In fact, this probably will not be the case. As the host family, you need to remember that part of training your new au pair also involves explaining the specifics of proper pandemic behaviour where you live.
4. Explain your family's personal risk management approach
Different families and au pairs will each have their own ideas about what degree of risk is acceptable and how corona risks should be handled. These attitudes and practices need to be discussed and agreed on – preferably before the au pair stay begins.
Au pairs need to recognise that as the host family you will be the ones who finally make the rules in this area and that as a temporary family member they will need to follow them. That said, these rules need to be clearly presented and openly discussed in a spirit of cooperation. A new au pair should not be suddenly surprised by your family's risk management approach.
Here are points to think about:
- When will masks be worn?
- Who can be invited to the family home?
- Are visits to indoor restaurants and cafés acceptable?
- What about visits to bars?
- What social distancing rules do the children in the family need to follow?
- What social distancing rules will the au pair and the host parents be following?
- What kind of travel will be acceptable for the au pair and for the family?
- How will information about corona symptoms that anyone in the family group is experiencing be communicated?
- Under what circumstances will testing be done?
These are not super fun topics to talk about, but we all have to deal with them at the current time – no matter where we live. Clear communication about these points will help everyone to develop trust with each other and to keep safe.
5. Keep talking and sharing information
The coronavirus situation continues to evolve and being well informed is a key part of staying safe. This makes it important to share information and concerns before the au pair stay begins and also during the stay.
More than ever, au pairs and families need to trust each other and to work together to get good results. Frequent and friendly communication about all the different aspects of daily life that are impacted by corona therefore needs to be an ongoing part of the cooperation between au pairs and families. As the host family you should see yourselves as the leading partner in this cooperative effort and keep the information flowing.
Video: How to handle an au pair stay during the pandemic
AuPairWorld staff member Sara took a close look at the corona-related issues that arise for host families together with their au pairs during a stay. She maps out a clear way forward for families and au pairs to follow together in this video.
Possible risks of hosting an au pair during covid-19 | AuPairWorld
At AuPairWorld, we aim be transparent and therefore we're happy to share the advice we have given to au pairs to prepare in advance for an au pair stay in coronavirus times.