Reopening schools amid COVID-19 pandemic

Since March, schools across the country have been closed to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Subsequently, the country has struggled to combat the disease that has no known cure yet.

The closure of the schools is just one of the numerous decisions that were taken by the government to ensure the safety of all students, their teachers as well as members of the public.

After staying at home for sometime however, there has been mixed reactions towards the closure of the schools. While some call for easing of the restrictions to allow the schools to reopen, others recommend gradual reopening with another group also asking the government not to reopen the schools at all.

In fact the argument advanced by the various groups makes a lot of sense but of course, every one of them is going to be subjected to scrutiny by the health experts before a final decision is taken by the government.

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On our part, we hold the view that we cannot remain in the present condition forever and that someday, somehow, students and teachers would have to go back to the classroom. So what do we do when the disease is still lurking around?

No doubt, the decision to open or not to open schools is not going to be an easy one because the teacher unions, the Parent-Teacher Associations and School Management Committees have said in various statements that the lives of teachers, students, and other school workers would be at risk due to the difficulty in maintaining social distance at schools.

They, therefore, proposed to the Ghana Education Service (GES) that any future decision to reopen schools must be based on science with published convincing data in support and consensus by parents and other stakeholders.

“Amid an increasing community spread, and the water, sanitation, and hygiene logistical constraints in schools, the GES should not advise the government to reopen schools now,” a statement from the Parent-Teacher Associations and School Management Committees said.

This position is however, strongly opposed by private schools who want the government to reopen the schools because their incomes and livelihoods depend solely on fees from their students.

Whatever decisions the government comes up with; there are some basic things that we must begin to look at before the schools are reopened.

The first major one is that, schools are going to face major budgetary challenges to meet the social distancing requirements demanded in the directives issued by the government.

Furthermore, the education authorities must be able to ensure that students and their teachers wear nose masks and wash their hands frequently with soap under running water which would require a lot of funds to sustain.

Although, some countries around the world have started reopening their schools and it would not be out of place for Ghana to do same, it is important that the logistics and other protective needs are provided the schools to ensure their safety in order contain the spread of COVID-19

It would be risky to reopen the schools without taking adequate measures to ensure that all schools adhered strictly to the necessary protocols to avoid further spread of the disease.

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