Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Authorities from the health and education ministries are advising parents to enroll their children in schools near their homes to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 as they go to school.
The advice comes a few days after President Yoweri Museveni gave a green light to schools to re-open for finalists following a six-month closure. According to President Museveni, if schools implement the stipulated guidelines to the dot, there would be nothing to worry about as children return.
Dr Kedrace Turyagenda, the director of education standards is of the view that to minimize situations where COVID-19 might be imported from different communities into schools, parents should enroll their children in schools within their current communities. Dr Turyagenda says there is no reason as to why a parent in Kisoro should insist on enrolling his child in a school in Kampala at such a time.
Dr Monica Musenero, an epidemiologist and senior presidential advisor says that measures are needed to make sure that learners and teachers do not spread the disease.
“We need to make sure we come up with a measure to ensure that children go to school and do not spread the disease to people at home at the end of the day. Right now, we are looking at the possibility of what would happen if the majority of the learners are enrolled in boarding schools,” Dr Musenero said.
She adds that if learners are left to go to schools and back home, they will spread the disease to people in their homes at a time when the health care system is stretched to its limit.
In Uganda, it is common to find parents living in Entebbe transporting their children every morning to Kampala to attend a specific school. Parents that URN spoke to say that they go through that trouble to ensure that their children get a quality education.
Mary Anne Kiggundu, a mother of four who lives in Sonde-Namugongo says she prefers to drive her children to the Mengo branch of Victorious Primary School because her children are comfortable there.
“Before we went to Sonde we used to live in Lungujja and Victorious was the best option. It still is. I do not see any good school where we live,” Kiggundu said.
The most feared happening is the spread of the virus into schools as it might cause public anxiety and panic. A number of countries which reopened schools were at some point forced to close them after recording worrying infections among students.
Prior to the scheduled reopening of schools on October 15, the Ministry of Education will carry out an inspection to ensure the safety of learners.