By Richard Akandwanaho
Various heads of schools in Kabale district say that they are still unable to implement Covid 19 standard operating procedures in case government cleared schools to resume operations.
More than 15 million children were sent home following the closure of schools in March this year by President Yoweri Museveni as a preventive measure to control the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.
Addressing the nation on the government’s progress in the fight against Covid 19 last month, President Museveni said that the government shall before September give a big decision on whether to either open some schools of candidate classes or declare a dead year.
Since then, Ministry of Education and Sports, Directorate of Education Standards released a set of Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards for schools in preparation to the reopening. The guidelines among others included availability of staff health, sanitation and environment committee to oversee or constitute Covid 19 Task Force, availability of daily reports on learners and daily support supervision conducted by school management on compliance to health standards especially SOPs.
Other guidelines included availability of an isolation room, provision of masks to school community, disinfection of classroom floors, walls, furniture, surfaces, toilets, program for shift system for class, library, workshops, laboratories and meals, availability of hand washing facilities among other guidelines.
Remigio Byamukama, the Head teacher of St Mary’s College Rushoroza in Kabale municipality said that it would be disastrous opening schools before a COVID 19 vaccine can be developed saying almost all the Basic Requirements and Minimum Standards for schools to open are expensive to implement due to limited resources and infrastructure.
David Byamugisha the head teacher Kigezi High school Primary in Kabale municipality said that as a school, they are not ready for re opening citing lack of a temperature gun and a technician to operate it to take temperatures of the pupils daily as one of the recommended standard operating procedure.
Byamugisha added that taking the pupil’s records daily requires extra man power and is time consuming and may thus be a burden to the schools. He also added that implementing social distancing may be impossible among the pupils since most of them are young and may not stop contacting one another.
Abraham Akampurira the Head teacher of Kigezi High school in Kabale municipality said that however much his school maybe prepared for the reopening of only candidate classes, it is advisable for the government to first consult other stakeholders in the education department like parents before it resolves to reopen schools.
Akampurira said it shall make no impact if schools were reopened and parents did not send their children back to schools due to either lack of necessary learning materials, school fees or the fear to expose their children to the risks of the virus from other learners and the school communities.
However, Barnard Bikorwomuhangi, the Head teacher Kabale Brainstorm High School also in Kabale municipality said that when the Ministry of Education released the standard operating procedures to schools in preparation for the opening of candidate classes, the school started preparing and is now ready waiting for the government’s decision on opening of candidate classes.
Simon Mugabe and Anna Maria Kyokusiima all parents in Kabale municipality said that they cannot send their children to schools even if government reopened schools. They claimed that the put standard operating procedures cannot be matched by most of the schools in Uganda due to limited resources and therefore there is a likelihood of the virus spreading easily among learners in case of any positive case, especially due to failure to implement protective measures like social distancing.