Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT & URN | All students, except the candidates in the middle of their UNEB exams, will return home today for holidays – two weeks earlier than scheduled.
Government a fortnight ago decided to close schools earlier than expected, due to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the country.
State Minister of Education Joyce Moriku Kaducu, while announcing the change, said the school term has been reduced by two weeks as one of the means to decongest schools, which their health counterparts say is likely to increase the vulnerability of children to Ebola disease. It was decied the term will now end on Friday November 25, 2022 instead of Decembver 9 as earlier planned..
Kaducu explained that after evaluating experts opinions, it was noted that closing the schools earlier will reduce areas of concentration where children are in close contact daily. Children are said to be at high risk of contracting Ebola since they require daily contact with their peers and caregivers.
According to the Ministry of Health, the disease which was first detected in Mubende district has so far claimed 51 lives. It adds that cases of Ebola have so far been found at five schools in Kampala, Wakiso and Mubende districts. The schools with affected children have been cordoned off and are being asked to decontaminate their facilities so children can safely return after the new year.
The decision is going ahead despite arguments by critics that it easier to control the spread of the virus in schools, because that is a regulated environment compared to the case when they are out of school.
By the time the government made the pronouncement, at least 23 children had contracted Ebola since the outbreak was first confirmed in Uganda. Eight of these died, while five had fully recovered and 16 were still under isolation.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health first suggested reducing the term in a televised interview earlier, but back tracked after complaints from parent.
The comment raised eyebrows among parents and educationists who were saying that with the schools returning from unprecedented school closure that lasted for two years, a fresh school closure should be a last resort option.
Ebola was detected on September 19 in Uganda and quickly spread to seven districts. On October 15, President Yoweri Museveni ordered a three-week lockdown in Mubende and the nearby Kassanda districts.