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UN releases guidelines for re-opening schools amid COVID-19 crisis

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | If closure of schools as a strategy to halt further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, United Nations (UN) Agencies warn that many children around the globe may not get another chance of an education.

As a result in their latest joint press statement, UNESCO, UNICEF and World Food Programme have called for balancing of the world’s educational needs and public health needs noting that over 1.3 billion students have been affected by lockdowns on schools.

Giving countries six key guidelines to inform reopening of schools, the organizations note that the widespread closures of educational facilities in response to the pandemic present an unprecedented risk to children’s education and well being particularly for the most marginalized children who rely on school for their education, health, safety and nutrition.

“Rising inequality, poor health outcomes, violence, child labor and child marriage are just some of the long-term threats for children who miss out on school,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “We know the longer children stay out of school, the less likely they are to ever to return. Unless we prioritize the reopening of schools, we will likely see a devastating reversal in education gains.”

The guidelines for reopening noted in the statement include; policy reform, financing requirements, safe operations, compensating learning, wellness and protection and reaching the most marginalized students. The plan is broken down into three phases: “prior to reopening” where they suggest that schools are reopened in areas with lowest transmission rates or consider opening for a few days a week and developing clear physical distancing protocols. At the phase classified as “part of reopening” the organizations suggested having enough hand washing facilities and train staff on hygiene protocols to ensure that proper guidelines are followed.

When it comes to phase three of “with schools reopened,” they offer guidelines on actively monitoring health indicators and expanding the focus on well being and protection.

“Once schools begin to reopen, the priority becomes reintegrating students into school settings safely and in ways that allow learning to pick up again especially for those who suffered the biggest learning losses. This is a critical moment as it is the launching pad for a new normal that should be more effective and equitable. To manage re openings, schools will need to be logistically prepared with the teaching workforce ready,” said Jaime Saavedra, World Bank Global Director for Education.

However, even with these guidelines, the three UN organizations together with the World Bank argue that there is a risk that many countries can’t make such decisions depending on guided information since their data on the virus’ full spread is incomplete and are not sure of how wide spread the virus is in their different localities.

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21 comments

  1. I really agree because in our place girls of 15years who were in senior four have joined marriage in this COVID 19 lockdown . So may be schools should reopen in order to avoid this habit.

  2. Uganda gvt should not allow the school b’se of rapid increase of covid 19

  3. I’m one of the most affected child because of school closure.
    I’m supposed to complete my Advanced level this year but COVID 19 has disorganized everything.
    We hope for the best.

  4. candidate classes should open first as there will be enough classrooms to observe social and physical distance as the government monitors the situation of how its going on then later on other classes would reopen after fully study of the community transmission otherwise there will be high rate of early marriages and defilement cases in Uganda as it has just started in some parts of the country

  5. Charles oyenyrwot

    Gov’t should let schools reopen in the next academic year.There will be rapid increase in the cases of covid-19 when public transport is open to transport students worst with the increasing cases in EA

  6. I’m really also affected with this outbreak of covid 19 bse I was just remaining with only 4 months to complete my diploma in sec teaching so schools should be opened..

  7. I would suggest that schools be re-openned especially for candidate classes. I believe all schools in Uganda are able to keep their candidates together with their teachers at the school premises in a boarding setting for proper monitoring and this provides a proper basis for quarantine in schools while benefitting academically.

  8. Please just open schools

  9. Schools should be reopened only for candidates

  10. BYAMUKAMA RONALD from Bundibugyo district

    IT IS A GOOD IDEA. I SUGGEST THAT LET STUDENTS STUDY IN SHIFTS SO AS TO OBSERVE SOCIAL DISTANCING.

  11. International schools shall be finishing next week or 2 weeks from now
    schools should be open for international school who are taking a 2-month long break after these next 2 weeks
    so many children are affected by not going to school and things are hard for parents at home
    students CAN maintain social distancing and wearing mandatory masks
    We shall be safe if they only provide private transport

  12. am r’lly glad if r’ll coz our sch girls are nw almst changed to huse wivies and cases of early marriage abuse of sex getting alerted of corona 4gttng HIV/AIDS tz coz they ar nt in skul they ar hghly expsd to violence aftr thz covid thng most uganda ar gng to die of HIV whch is associated to high rate of pregnancy because pipo ar jst locked down
    i thng GOD if itz rll let the ministry and the gvrmt nt play wid ugandans minds
    FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY

  13. These people should bring their brains together, put them to use and find a way to open schools otherwise early marriages and the related cases are increasing

  14. Tumuhimbise Amos

    For sure schools should reopen in shifts because I have missed totally my plans. Instead of completing my diploma in primary education in2021,years are increasing because of covid, lockdown. And schools should be reopened coz its my source of tuition or fees for my studies. Now am totally off because some us are private teachers hence suffering.

  15. Schools should not reopen until WHO says soo! If most people are complaining about early marriages happening then its a decay in their upbringing of their children maybe they should use this time to teach their children the ways to go in this life! I personally dont think it is right to open schools because of some reports that state France opened up schools and in one week they recorded 70 cases how many more do you think could be affected and they are just carriers this disease is not any kind of disease this disease is a deadly pandemic that will cause harm to Uganda if things go south! I dont think it is wise yet for schools to reopen! The thing is most of you people are looking at a changing factor and not the most definite factor which is studying over preventative measures! We need life to study and not studying to live! Prevention is better than cure i hope you UGANDA can handle things in the best way!

  16. Akol Deogracious

    Its avery good i dea because that incidence is more serious. Let the head not accept to be dictated by the village pple because some of them dnt have children who have been at school and its their happines to see those school girls getting pregnant.following the history how malaria started it could real kill bt avery thng running normal then lets put in minds that even when we dnt take this children back to school or even if we take them back stil the disease has to be spread.lastly since its so scaring then lets have only medical schools to re sume because thats our next eye incase the disease cause adestruction on the side of health workers who are on front line afterall this ones know much about risk management And those saying let be adead year no it should not happen coz this dease is not going to stop this year or they will get adrug or avaccine for it.

  17. prevention is better than cure as but followin the 4 levels/stages of preventing the communicable diseases.
    1). pre-mordial prevention(1st stage)
    -here there are no risk factors and we aim at preventing the risk factors.
    2).primary prevention(2nd stage)
    -the risk factors are present and we aim at preventing the re-occurance of the infection.
    3).secondary prevention(3rd stage)
    -the disease is present and we aim at diagnising,treating and preventing to pple.
    4).tertiary prevention(4th stage)
    -here we rehabilitate.
    we have failed the 1st two stages though our president tried his best on those two stages but things failed and now we are in the 3rd and 4th stages.
    let schools be open as stated otherwise uganda will go down with development on the side of education.

  18. Okello Deogracious

    It’s surely sud news as our president M7 doesnt give light school resumption and when am seeing,listen news that girls have decided to take marriage as their best us school issues are doom.as the boyz start taking alcohol,smoking,and engage them selves in theft acts. And to make things worse the most affected age group are p.7 pupils,s.4s,and those who were to finalise in their final year and semester exams.jst imagine how painful it is for a parent to waiste their money and the end result is pregnancy,taking alcoholic drinks,stealing.
    But when some of these people were ment to do their end of semester final examz/state final exam last month june and by nw they would be some where looking for their ways of servival.

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