There have been mixed reactions to government’s decision to re-open schools. When President Yoweri Museveni addresses the nation on schools re-opening tomorrow, Thursday 8pm, he will aim to clear the many grey areas educationists have pointed out.
According to government’s plan, Primary 6, Senior 3 and Senior 5 students will be the first allowed back when schools re-open to non-candidate learners. The schools were closed in March 2020 as a measure to control the spread of coronavirus disease.
Although no dates have been announced for the official reopening, the cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday that schools will now be allowed to reopen in a staggered manner that will ensure compliance with COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures.
The Ministers resolved that in order to complete the academic year and ensure progression, all semi candidate classes, which include Primary Six, Senior three and senior five should report back to school in the short term and study with the candidate classes.
Promotion to the next class will be based on attendance and continuous assessment of classwork and assignments.
All candidate classes returned to school in September last year in preparation for final examinations which will be completed on March 31, for the primary cycle, and April 6, for Uganda Certificate of Education.
“Given that PLE will be completed on March 31, 2021, and UCE on April 6, there will be more space in schools in schools when candidates leave to enable the other classes to report back and study, to complement homeschooling,” the statement reads.
However, Pre-Primary schools will remain closed because the learners in this category cannot observe SOPs and are prone to respiratory infections. It added that because many of the pre-primary institutions are day-based, there is a lot of interfaces between learners, teachers and parents, which could increase the risk of infections.
But higher institutions have been given a task to open in the short term. The Technical Vocational Education and Training Institutions, National Teachers Colleges’ and Primary Teachers Colleges are expected to open in the short term because many of them have the infrastructure capacity for the number of students enrolled, to observe the social distancing requirement. The ministers said that all students in these tertiary institutions should be allowed to report back with the final year students.
Education institutions have now been advised to emphasize preventive actions for learners and staff on a daily basis. This, the Ministers say, should include training of staffs to enable them to transfer knowledge to learners and other workers in education institutions. All learners will be required to wear face masks.
At the same time, the Ministry of health will constitute a team of Doctors to visit schools affected by COVID-19 in support of schools and the district task force.