Cabinet has listed at least 18 recommendations, guidelines and conditions for the ‘staggered’ reopening of schools, starting with sub-candidate classes of Senior Three, Senior Five and Primary Six.
The guidelines are part of the resolutions cabinet reached during a meeting at State House Entebbe on February 01.
Here are the recommendations and guidelines:
(i) That the Education Institutions be allowed to open for non-candidate classes in a staggered manner that will ensure compliance with COVID 19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and safety.
(ii) That the pre-primary schools should not be re-opened because Learners in this category cannot observe the SOPs and are prone to respiratory infections including COVID-19 and in addition, most of the pre-primary schools are day and therefore, there is a lot of interface between the Learners, Teachers and Parents hence increasing the risk of infection.
(iii) The Leadership of the Ministries of Education and Sports; and Health will undertake a countrywide tour of schools and Institutions to ascertain their preparedness to reopen for non-candidate classes.
(iv) In order to complete the academic year and ensure progression, the semi-candidate classes (P6, S3 and S5) should report back to school in the short term and study (in shifts where necessary) with the Candidate classes.
(v) Given that PLE will be completed on 31st March, 2021 and UCE on 6th April, 2021, there will be more space in schools, when candidates leave, to enable the other classes report back and study to complement home schooling.
(vi) For the classes studying in shifts, Teachers will be guided to work through the home-schooling materials with a view of explaining and clarifying concepts and correcting self-study work done by Learners at home.
(vii) Promotion to the next class will be based on attendance and continuous assessment of class work and assignments.
(viii) The Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Institutions, Primary Teachers’ Colleges (PTCs) and National Teachers’ Colleges (NTCs) should also open in the short term provided they are able to observe the SOPs.
(ix) Primary Teachers’ Colleges and National Teachers’ Colleges have the infrastructure capacity for the number of students enrolled to observe the social distancing requirement, therefore all students in these colleges should be allowed to report back with the final year students.
(x) The Universities will open in a staggered manner that will ensure compliance with COVID 19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and safety.
(xi) Prior to the re-opening of Education Institutions, the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government and other key Ministries in conjunction with Local Governments will carry out a massive awareness campaign to enable Parents and Learners prepare for the re-opening.
(xii) Education Institutions should emphasize preventive actions for Learners and Staff on a daily basisas stipulated in the SOPs and this should include training of Staff on the SOPs so as to enable transfer of knowledge to the Learners and other workers in the Education Institutions.
(xiii) The SOPs should continuously be reviewed and updated based on the trend of the pandemic and in view of this, the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Health will review the SOPs and guidelines in light of the emerging issues before the reopening.
(xiv) The Ministry of Health will constitute a team of Doctors to visit schools affected by COVID-19 in support of schools and District COVID-19 Task Forces.
(xv) All Learners will be required to wear face masks and parents shall be encouraged to provide two (2) face masks for each of their children.
(xvi) Routine School Health Information Systems for surveillance purposes should be developed and these will be used for day-to-day reporting on absenteeism, illness, symptoms and disease surveillance efforts to detect and respond to the outbreak.
(xvii) An absenteeism monitoring plan should be developed to track attendance of Learners, Teachers and non-teaching Staff to enable monitoring and alerting of local Health Officials about large increases in Learner and Staff absenteeism, particularly if the absence is due to respiratory illness.
(xviii) A communication plan should be developed to enable sharing of information within the school community on issues of COVID 19 and this plan should include strategies for sharing information with Staff, Students and their families.