GUIDELINES: Govt sets new terms for reopening schools

Students in a chemistry practical exam (PHOTO/Courtesy)

The Ministry of Education Covid-19 response task force has proposed a number of strategies to be adopted by all schools countrywide to prepare and ensure safe reopening and operations of education institutions.

The government is scheduled to reopen primary and secondary schools next month following a presidential directive.
The Ministry of Education has, however, faced a sustained attack from proprietors of schools and legislators over the absence of a reopening plan.

According to the strategies for safe reopening, which Daily Monitor has seen, all schools will be required to work with the Ministry of Health to implement the digital disease surveillance system (M-Track).
The system is expected to expedite reporting and follow up of Covid-19 alerts in affected schools.

Before closure of schools for the second time in June this year, a number of schools across the country reportedly concealed Covid-19 infections. The Education and Health ministries now believe the surveillance mechanism in place will help them get on top of things.

“The school-based Covid-19 surveillance system will be supplemented with active surveillance and monitoring through the sub-county structures. The sub-county school Covid-19 surveillance and monitoring teams will be composed of sub-county chiefs, parish chiefs, the inspector of schools, to reach each education institution at least once in two weeks,” the strategic plan reads in part.

The government will also hold the head of the education institution accountable for effective implementation of Standard operating procedures (SOPs), supervising disease surveillance, and ensuring timely reporting.

The head will also ensure that only vaccinated teaching and non-teaching staff are allowed to work in the institution.
As far as progression of students to the next level is concerned, the education task force proposes that schools should allow all learners that have attained six years of age to join Primary One irrespective of whether they have been through early childhood programmes or pre-primary programmes.
Pre-primary pupils have never stepped foot in class since the first closure in 2020 March. Some observers say this means that teachers will have a hard time handling learners who have not been taken through pre-primary lessons.

The task force also recommends progress of non-candidate learners to the next year of study within the given sub-sector.
According to the proposals compiled by the director of Education Standards, schools should carry out continuous school-based assessment without subjecting non-candidates learners to end of year promotional exams as is usually the practice as schools open.

The Education ministry also proposes a shift system of in-person attendance that encompasses morning and afternoon sessions.

It will essentially have a staggered system of in-person attendance of alternate day attendance for different classes during the phased reopening in schools without adequate infrastructure capacity.

When contacted yesterday, the director of the Education Standards, Dr Kedrace Turyagyenda, said all proposals are still being considered by various stakeholders.

Mr Turyagyenda said once approved, the proposals will be disseminated to the public.

Meanwhile, Mr Okiria Martin Obore, the national chairperson of Association of Secondary Schools’, said head teachers will today meet at Kololo to discuss the strategies for safe reopening.

Daily Monitor 

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