Education Reopening Schools

The Ghana Education service in recent times has been critized by various teacher unions and key stakeholders in the provision of education following a letter requesting proposals for the reopening of schools in the country. They argued that the intention to reopen basic and senior high schools will create fear and panic among the rank and file of their members especially when the number of cases and death toll related to COVID-19 continue to increase.

This notwithsatnding, the President of the Republic announced the reopening of schools for some category of students in his eleventh (11th) update on coronavirus situation to the nation. He said “from tomorrow, Monday, 15th June, the last batch of institutions in this phased approach, our educational institutions, will begin to re-open, with final year students in our tertiary colleges and universities returning to school to prepare for and take their exit examinations. As has been stated, final year senior high school (SHS 3) students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, will resume on 22nd June and final year junior high school (JHS 3) students, the week after, on 29th June”.

He also hintedGhanaians on measures government has put in place to guarantee the safety and protection of students against the coronavirus pandemic. To aid in that regard, adequate number of face masks, gallons of hand sanitizers, gallons of liquid soap, thermometer guns and veronica buckets have been distributed to the various schools across the country through the various Regional Coordinating Councils to the various Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDAs) for onward distribution to the schools within their jurisdictions. I think the government should be commended for the timely release of these resources to help in the fight against the coronavirus disease in our schools. But the question one may ask is doavailability of these resources guarantee success over the pandemic?

Obviously not entirely. Success over the virus in our schools can only be realised through proper planning and execution at  various institutional levels which must be well coordinated by the various MMDAs with continuous monitoring and supervision by the various Regional Coordinating Councils. MMDAs must ensure that resources from central government and other donors are appriopriately and timely deployed to the various schools and use for the intended purpose. Commitment and cooperation from various key stakeholders including teachers, non-teaching staff and the entire student body is required at this critical time. These are the surest ways of mitigating the effect of the virus through prevention or quickly detecting a suspected case and isolating him or her for medical attention.

In view of the above, it appears the managers of the Builsa South District are becoming pros in handling and managing the situation in order to prevent and possibily contain the spread of the coronavirus disease within their jurisdiction. This article is a follow up to an earlier publication in ghanaweb. Refer to the link to see article (http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Coronavirus-the-preparedness-of-the-Builsa-South-District-Assembly-960007). The essence is to share with other MMDAs and school authorities some good practices and strategies being implemented to ensure successful reopening of schools within the Builsa South District and to further create coronavirus-free environment that willpromoteeffective academic work.

Following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in the country on 12th March, 2020, authorities of the Builsa South District commissioned a District Emergency Response Team on COVID-19 which facilitated the preparation of a COVID-19 Crisis Management Plan to fight the disease head-on. Hence, subsequent to the President’s announcement on the reopening of schools, all the team did was to activate its plans and strategies in line with the successful reopening of schools under the education component.

The team has so far rolled out the following measures which are yielding good results as anticipated:

  1. Following the reopening, fumigation/ disinfection exercise which was supervised by the Zoomlion Ghana Limited was carried out in the Fumbisi Senior High, Kanjarga Senior High and all Junior High Schools across the district.
  2. Training and sensitization of all teaching and non – teaching staff is currently on-going. This is to update the knowledge of these key stakeholders and adequately prepare them against the COVID-19 situation in the school environment.
  3. A reporting center has been designated where all students at both Kanjarga and Fumbisi Senior High Schools are to first report and undergo medical screening before ushering them into their various dormitories.
  4. Adequate arrangements have been made to educate and sensitize all students on COVID-19 taken into consideration the issue of stigmatization of the disease.
  5. Education and sensitization of the general public in respect of community-student relation in the era of COVID-19 is on-going.
  6. Veronica buckets and other sanitary items have been placed at the entrance of the various schools, dormitories, dining hall and at vantage points within the schools to promote hand washing and hygiene practices among the students, teachers and non-teaching staff.
  7. The District Emergency Response Team on COVID-19 donated over 4,000 nose masks to headmasters of all Senior High and Junior High schools within the district for onward distribution to all final year students in the district. This was to augment the supplies by the central government.
  8. Various Sub-committees including Coronavirus Sub-committee have been commissioned to ensure adherence to the COVID-19 preventive protocols issued by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) with respect to successful reopening and staying safe in school.
  9. A well-equipped facility has been earmarked to isolate any student who shows symptoms of coronavirus and properly treated.
  10. All classrooms are operating at half their capacities. For instance, a class which hitherto contains 40 students, now contains 20 students. This is to ensure social distancing among the students.
  11. Various institutional Sub-committees on coronavirus have been tasked to provide a weekly update on COVID-19 situation and other related situations in their various schools to the headmasters of the respective schools and subsequently to the District Emergency Response Team on coronavirus for prompt action.
  12. A vehicle has been earmarked to facilitate the transportation of any suspected case that may be beyond the redress of the district health workers.
  13. The District Emergency Response Team on COVID-19 continues to monitor the regional and national developments on the disease and revising its strategies in fighting the disease.

In conclusion, fortunately for us in the district, the team championing the campaign against coronaviruswithin the district have been givenadequate education and sensitization on the dynamics of the virus. Therefore, they are aware of the devastating effect of the disease and the havoc it has brought tovarious countries and communities across the globe and are well committed and cooperating to secure victory over the virus. We are hoping for great success in the fight against the virus since there has so far been very good coordination and commitment on the part of every key stakeholder to defeat the virus. Our survival against the virus has shifted from government’s sole responsibility to individual complementarity. Hence every teacher, non-teaching staff and students need to be vigilant while on campus and show the required leadership in order to secure resounding victory over COVID-19.

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