Uganda’s academic calendar and learning enviroment will change once schools reopen to candidate classes and finalists in the next few weeks, according to a plan by the Ministry of Education and Sports.
Closed in March 2020 to prevent the spread of Covid19 in mass concentration places, schools have been on six-month break.
When Museveni announced closure of schools in March, Uganda had no Covid19 case. But cumulative infection toll is nearing the 4,000 mark, with almost 50 deaths recorded.
The ministry plans on a phased reopening plan, beginning with candidate classes.
After missing part of first term and the whole of second term, learners in primary and secondary schools will be expected to cover second term’s content.
What this means is that the period from September to December (what would ordinarily be third term) will be second term for candidates.
Second term would end sometime in December, while third term would resume late January or early February 2021 after a holiday.
Candidates would then have to prepare for final exams in March and April 2020 — instead of the usual October-December season.
The ministry says it plans to reopen schools for other classes after studying the way schools will respond to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines for candidate classes.
The SOPs include reducing the number of students attending each class to those recommended by the Ministry of Health (MoH) as a way of observing social distance.
Schools with big numbers in their candidate classes will be required to introduce shifts. Only 10-15 students will be allowed in a classroom as a way of observing the two-meter distance rule.
The ministry also wants schools to cut out co-curricular activities. Officials also want schools to run from 8am to 1:30pm.
Schools will operate as either day or boarding. None will be allowed to have both day and boarding sections until the situation normalizes.
Hand washing facilities and good ventilation will be a must for all schools.
Schools will also be required to regularly disinfect classrooms, dormitories, offices and compounds.
The ministry also wants teachers to supervise breaks such as lunch time, and ensure that students are not congested in one place during these periods.
Once the ministry is convinced that schools have complied with the SOPs for candidate classes, the ministry plans to reopen all education institutions for more classes.
As Ugandans await the presidential announcement on school reopening, two things are certain: learners will return to a completely different school environment and the academic year will change — unless the ministry changes its plan for reopening and opts for a dead year.