Schools cleared to reopen this month, students told to report with pairs of masks

It has finally been resolved by the Government to have schools reopened on September 20.

However, this will start with candidate classes and finalists in universities. Sources in the education ministry yesterday told Sunday Vision that the ministry had at last agreed with the COVID-19 National Task Force to have schools re-opened and that this decision, if there are no major changes, will soon be officially announced.

“The Government has finally agreed to have schools re-opened in a phased manner. After we have ascertained that schools can put in place the set Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the Government will okay the opening of the remaining classes,” a source said.

This development comes a day after the First Lady and education minister, Mrs Janet Museveni, wrote to finance minister, Matia Kasaija, asking him to release capitation grants for third term to the beneficiary schools.

In the letter, Mrs Museveni says: “I refer to the meeting held on September 1, 2020 by H.E the President and the National COVID-19 Task Force at State House Entebbe.

“The meeting resolved that a phased re-opening of schools, starting with candidate classes be implemented starting September 20, 2020.”

On the basis of the meeting, Mr.  Museveni says the capitation funds should be released so that the headteachers can plan for the reopening of schools.

The letter was copied to the President, Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, ministers of state for education, the secretary to the treasury, Keith Muhakanizi and the permanent secretary of the education  ministry, Alex Kakooza.

President Yoweri Museveni ordered the closure of all education institutions and places of worship, among others, in March, as one of the measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

An estimated 15 million learners in 73,240 institutions and 548,192 teachers were affected. Although several economic activities have resumed in the Government’s phased lifting of the lockdown, schools, places of worship, bars and night clubs remain closed to date.

Last month, the President ordered that the finance ministry releases sh20b to support the hundreds of thousands of teachers in 13,000 private schools.

Unlike Kenya which resolved to go for a dead year, Uganda, based on proposals from the health and education ministries, is still optimistic that the academic year can be salvaged.
Last week, the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) indicated that final year students at health related institutions and universities will report to their respective academic institutions on September 28.

However, the council set tight guidelines to control the spread of COVID-19.

On the reporting day, the guidelines say, all students will be required to attend mandatory COVID-19 training, infection prevention and control SOPs.

These will include mandatory testing of both staff and students, walk and ride to school and disinfection of institutions currently used as isolation centres.

In line with the President’s directive, the guidelines have banned congregational gatherings for fellowships, chapel or mosque prayers at the respective academic institutions.

Students will also have restricted movement during their time at the institutions.

Occupancy of hostels should be in compliance with the health ministry’s social distancing SOPs.

The students will also be required to report with at least four reusable two layer cotton masks and institutions will be required to offer them sanitisers.

“A 50ml alcohol rub will initially be supplied to the institutions. Each student will be required to refill their bottle when they run out,” the NCHE guidelines read.

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