KAMPALA — The Higher Education State Minister, John Chrysostom Muyingo has revealed that the Ministry of Education is working on fresh guidelines to determine how schools can be reopened.
Mr. Muyingo says while prioritizing the safety of learners and teachers, the ministry together with their health counterparts are critically examining all possible avenues that will eventually inform the safe reopening of schools.
Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the State Minister for Education says the government also intends to base on the epidemiological update of the virus and risk profile analysis before giving green light to any group of learners to return to school.
According to Dr Kaducu, as they consider how primary and secondary schools can safely reopen, they have already effected the school reopening process which will be done in a systematic manner starting with universities and other tertiary institutions.
Already, several groups and individual experts have come up with alternative ideas including the enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures, beefing up inspections, and COVID19 surveillance to eliminate the possible concealment of cases, a factor that led to a surge of infection before the second school closure in June this year.
Others have also advised the government to think of having shortened learning sessions, for instance making a term to last one month, as it would be easier to control infections and remove the laxity in adhering to SOPs that normally comes with long sessions.
Dr Kedrace Turyagyenda, the Director of Education Standards and a member of the COVID19 education response committee, says that as part of their operating model, they have also been making consultations from all stakeholders right from the lowest levels to the top authorities before a final decision can be made.
Dr Turyagyenda further adds that although they haven’t yet formally received some of the proposals made in the public domain, they are reviewing the current Standard Operating Procedures-SOPs regarding education institutions.
“The (education) taskforce is currently reexamining the standard operating procedures updating them to suit the current situation. However, if we have developed anything, it must go through the ministry of health and other levels as required before they are considered,” she notes.
Whereas the government has been acting slowly on reopening schools, reports from UNICEF notes that evidence collected since the start of the pandemic has shown that children and schools are not the main drivers of the pandemic.
In their recent address on school closures in Africa, UNICEF highlighted that so far the health risks to children from COVID-19 have remained low compared to the anticipated effects of prolonged school closures on learners’ outcomes and the country at large which might take decades to be solved.
Additional reopening by URN