The government has begun a phased-opening of educational institutions today, with the re-opening of universities for final year students, as well as final year students of other educational and training institutions, which are managed by ministries, other than the Ministry of Education.
This is to enable them to complete their lectures and write their exit examination, as announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his last broadcast to the nation, on May 31, on the update of the coronavirus containment efforts.
Final year students of Senior High Schools (SHSs), including Gold Track and Junior High Schools (JHSs) will take their turn to return to schools, on June 22 and June 29 respectively, to continue classes towards writing their exit exams.
Other aspects of schooling will remain closed, till further notice as directed by the President in Executive Instrument 64, following the passage by Parliament of the Imposition of Restrictions, Act, 2020.
Ghanaian Times is aware that the phased-opening of schools has been informed by empirical evidence, following a wide-range consultations by the President with stakeholders on “strategic, controlled, progressive, easing of restrictions”, imposed by the government as a part of measures to check the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2(SARS-CoV-2) that is responsible for the deadly disease, coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The world is still grappling with the disease, and of course Ghana, is not out of the woods yet. We still have spikes in the communities across the country with the case load crossing the 11,000 mark, and so far 48 people have succumbed, albeit with pre-existing health conditions.
The country is recording recoveries, though slower than the infection rates, but we risk a second wave of the disease, if we let our guard down.
It’s in light of this that we welcome our final year students back on campus, with the call on them to cooperate with the school authorities and adhere strictly to the specific guidelines, including social distancing arrangement and enhanced hygiene protocol to ensure safety on campus, to prevent further community spikes in infection.
We are certainly not in normal times, and we sympathise with the plight of students, given that online studies come with challenges and also there are some programmes that lectures must certainly be face-to-face.
Undoubtedly, the reopening of universities for the final year students to complete their programme will serve as litmus test on whether we can have our normal life back, with a complete lifting of ban on public gathering.
Indeed, the outcome of the re-reopening of universities will determine whether the government will go ahead to allow SHS and JHS final year students take their turn to go back to school to complete their academic programmes.
We recall what the President said in his last broadcast, as a gentle reminder “The introduction of this phased opening up of our country means that each and every one of us must continue to remain vigilant and respect the enhanced hygiene and social distancing protocols that have become part and parcel of our daily routine over the last three months. We can’t afford to let our guard down, and ruin the successes we have chalked over the years.”
A word to the wise is enough!