COVID-19: Gov’t Sets Tough Guidelines Ahead Of Schools Reopening

COVID-19: Gov’t Sets Tough Guidelines Ahead Of Schools Reopening

By Monica Kobusiinge

Kampala: Following President Museveni’s approval to reopen schools for finalist students, the Government is set to issue the final standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all educational institutions around the country as prepared by the Education Ministry and approved by the National Taskforce on Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Uganda National Students Association Petitions Museveni Over Controversies In Reopening Of Schools

The development has been confirmed by the Education Ministry’s permanent secretary, Alex Kakooza, who revealed that a final list of SOPs has now been agreed upon and will be released today 23 September 2020, ahead of schools reopening for candidates and finalists in higher institutions of learning as directed.

“All schools will be notified on the final approved SOPs, which must be followed without fail,” Kakooza said.

READ ALSO: Angry MPs Grill Prime Minister Rugunda Over Delayed Schools Reopening

However, earlier SOPs indicated that no school will be allowed to have both the boarding section and day scholars, Kakooza said the new SOPs for the schools which will be announced today will guide the schools on what to do on the same issue.

These come after a series of meetings by the Education and Health Ministries and the National Taskforce, to come up with affordable and secure SOPs if schools are to open on October 15, starting with candidate classes and finalists.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Ministry Of Education Sets Stringent SOPs Ahead Of Schools Reopening

Kakooza said the finalists include those in all tertiary institutions, universities, and vocational institutions.

In his COVID-19 national address on Sunday in which he approved reopening of schools, President Museveni said: “If the students follow the SOPs, they will be safe.”

He added  that: “We have decided to reopen schools for the candidate classes of P7, S4, S6 as well as finalists in tertiary institutions and universities.”

He said it is safe to allow finalist classes because they are a smaller number compared to the total enrollment which can allow social distancing to avoid the spread of the virus.

READ ALSO: Janet Museveni Tasks Finance Minister Kasaija To Release Capitation Fund For Reopening Of Schools

Meanwhile, as they prepare to reopen schools for candidates, schools under the Uganda National Association of Private Schools and Institutions have asked the Government to offer incentives on temperature guns, sanitizers and handwashing equipment for schools.

Hasadu Kirabira,  in-charge of research at the association, said they are willing to reopen, but the Government should support private institutes, which may not be in a position to fulfil the requirements.

“We will be required to buy temperature guns and sanitizers, among others, but there are schools which might fail to buy the equipment and we ask the Government to intervene,” he said.

READ ALSO: UCC Students Given Two Weeks To Prepare For Online Exams After Museveni Okays Reopening Of Schools

Kirabira said the government should not focus only on private schools in the urban area.

“We should not look at only private schools in Kampala there are private schools in Karamoja and other rural areas. These will need more support in implementing the SOPs,” Kirabira, who doubles as the vice-chairperson of the National Private Schools Teachers Association, said.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Museveni Issues Fresh Directives To Taskforce Before Reopening Of Airport & Schools

 Proprietors of private schools have also asked the Government to make a contribution toward the salaries of staff at the different private schools and institutions. They also want the Government to either buy off loans or transfer them from commercial banks to Uganda Development Bank (UDB), which, they say, has lower interest rates.

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