The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Education and Sports is considering banning boarding sections in all primary schools as it contemplates options for the reopening of Education institutions.
According to Uganda Radio Network (URN), authorities have discussed the possibility of removing the boarding sections as one of the new guidelines and operating procedures that will see schools safely reopen in the face of Covid-19, for this category of learners, who have not been recommended for any kind of vaccination.
The Ministry of Education strategy states that sizable number of teachers, non-teaching staff and learners must be vaccinated before the reopening. But, even if vaccines are available, there are no approved vaccines for children aged below 12, the majority at this level of education.
Hajj Ismael Mulindwa, the Director of Basic Education and chairperson of the Covid-19 Education Response Task Force says that boarding schools bring students from different areas yet observing SOPs to the dot in young learners might not be attainable. He says that having children at this level in the day section becomes a better option.
Although this decision may not affect many public schools since most of them are already operating as day schools, it will come as a big blow to the private schools given the fact that some have been entirely operating as boarding schools.
After the first school closure last year, the ministry guided that on reopening, schools could be operating as either day or boarding but not both. This was done to ensure that students who move home on a daily basis do not mix with those who are at school. For boarding sections, the creation of a bubble for the school community was seen as a better solution.
Besides closing the boarding section, the ministry also plans to have learners at primary level study in shifts with a section attending classes in the morning and another in the afternoon. Mulindwa says that if shifts are insufficient then schools can go with the alternate-day model where some classes attend from Monday to Wednesday and others report for studies from Thursday to Saturday.
Mulindwa further notes that for whatever reason the ministry is not planning, for now, and even in the near future, to have all learners report back to schools in one group as it was before COVID-19. To him, this might take some years until they confirm that at least 90 per cent of the learners’ population is immunized.
For other levels of education, sources privy to the reopening plans say that the ministry is adopting some measures employed during that last reopening by sticking on the staggered and phased reopening approach.
“Staggered and phased reopening remains their main strategy,” sources privy to the plans told URN.
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