Cabinet approves reopening of schools to non-candidate learners

A pupil at the Winnie Mandela Secondary School has her temperature measured as she enters the school premises before classes resume in the Tembisa township, Ekurhuleni, on June 8, 2020. - Grade 7 and grade 12 pupils in South Africa began returning to classrooms on June 8, 2020 after two and a half months of home-schooling to limit the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. COURTESY PHOTO/Michele Spatari / AFP)

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Cabinet has approved reopening of schools to non-candidate learners. All schools in the country were closed in March 2020 as a measure to control the spread of COVID-19 disease.

Although no actual dates have been announced for the official reopening yet, the cabinet said in a statement on Tuesday 2, February 2021 that schools will now be allowed to reopen in a “staggered manner” that will ensure compliance with COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures [SOPs].

The ministers resolved that in order to complete the academic year and ensure progression, all semi candidate classes, which include primary six, senior three and senior five should report back to school in the short term and study with the candidate classes.

Promotion to the next class will be based on attendance and continuous assessment of classwork and assignments.

All candidate classes returned to school in September last year in preparation for final examinations which will be completed on March 31, for the primary cycle, and April 6, for Uganda Certificate of Education [UCE].

“Given that PLE will be completed on March 31, 2021, and UCE on April 6, there will be more space in schools in schools when candidates leave to enable the other classes to report back and study, to complement homeschooling,” the statement reads.

However, pre-primary schools will remain closed because the learners in this category cannot observe SOPs and are prone to respiratory infections according to the statement, adding that because many of the pre-primary institutions are day-based, there is a lot of interfaces between learners, teachers and parents, which could increase the risk of infections.

But higher institutions have been okayed to reopen in the short term. Technical vocational education and training institutions, national teachers colleges and primary teachers colleges are expected to open in the short term because many of them have the infrastructure capacity for the number of students enrolled, to observe the social distancing requirement. Cabinet said that all students in these tertiary institutions can report back with the final year students.

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Education institutions have now been advised to emphasize preventive actions for learners and staff on a daily basis. This, the ministers say, should include training of staffs to enable them to transfer knowledge to learners and other workers in education institutions. All learners will be required to wear face masks.

At the same time, the ministry of Health will constitute a team of Doctors to visit schools affected by COVID-19 in support of schools and the district task force.