Creating safe environment for students to return to school

In three days’ time; that is on June 15 all final-year students of educational and training institutions under the management of ministries other than the Education Ministry are to return to school to complete their exit examinations.

Similarly, final-year Senior High School (SHS) students, as well as their juniors of form two Gold Track would also go back to school on June 22 and 29 respectively.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, issued the directive for students to go back to school in a nationwide broadcast on television on May 31 as part of a wide range of measures taken to ease restrictions in the fight against COVID-19.

According to the President, the decision to reopen the schools was arrived at after consultation with the teacher unions and other stakeholders.

While there is a general consensus on the re-opening of the schools, the decision has nonetheless generated a lot of anxiety among parents, teachers and educational workers in view of the rapidly increasing confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country.

At the time the President announced the decision, Ghana’s confirmed case tally was 8,060 with 36 deaths. But as of yesterday, the case count has climbed up in excess of 10,000 with 44 deaths.

But the health experts would tell you the increase in numbers are to be expected because of the contact tracing that is going on around the country and not necessarily new infections.

Although the explanations are understandable, the concerns being expressed by parents and teachers cannot be dismissed.

For instance from the Upper West Region, our correspondent reports that head teachers of some educational institutions in the region have expressed concern over the possible importation of the coronavirus into the region with the reopening of schools for final year students.

The report said, they expressed fear that the students coming from across the country with some arriving from areas designated as hotspots for the COVID-19 could transport the virus to the schools in the region.

They, therefore, called for precautionary measures to be instituted prior to the possible reopening of the schools.

The Ghanaian Times agrees with the head teachers and the parents and share in their concerns, but we are optimistic that the government would provide adequate PPEs to all school  and together with the head teachers ensure a safe environment for the students as well as teachers.

The teachers in particular are going to perform duties similar to the front line professionals and therefore, must have access to PPEs and testing kits as they teach the students and look out for any possible COVID-19 cases.

We must appeal to the school authorities and remind them that the burden to guarantee the safety of all on campus is not on only that of the government. It is a shared responsibility and therefore, the school authorities must at all time focus on social distancing measures and hand washing with soap under running water to limit the spread of COVID-19.

We hope and pray that parents, teachers and head teachers as well as all stakeholders would be up to the challenge when schools reopen in the next few days.

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