The Member of Parliament for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has said Ghana needs to draw lessons from other countries which have reopened schools and recorded a rise in COVID-19 cases and use such lessons as guidelines to make smarter choices when it comes to reopening of the various educational institutions in the country.
Countries like South Korea and France recorded mass infections after schools were reopened.
While announcing the easing of the restrictions on Sunday, 31 May 2020, President Akufo-Addo said: “From Monday, 15 June 2020, the decision has been taken, after engagement with the Teacher Unions, whose co-operation I salute, to re-open schools and universities to allow for final-year junior high, senior high and university students to resume classes ahead of the conduct of their respective exit examinations”.
“Indeed, final-year university students are to report to their universities on 15th June; final-year senior high school (SHS 3) students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, on 22nd June; and final-year junior high school (JHS 3) students on 29th June. JHS 3 classes will comprise a maximum of thirty (30) students; SHS classes a maximum of twenty-five (25) students; and University lectures will take place with half the class sizes”, the President said.
“All final-year students of educational and training institutions, which are being managed by Ministries other than the Education Ministry, are to return to school on 15th June to complete their exit examinations.
“Again, prior to the opening of schools and universities, the Ministry of Education, and the heads of public and private educational institutions, will fumigate and disinfect their institutions”.
“Each student, teacher, and non-teaching staff will be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of Education. For the avoidance of doubt, all other educational facilities, private and public, for non-final-year students, will remain closed”, the President added.
Also, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Minister of Education, said on Tuesday, 2 June 2020 that there shall be no form of religious activity in schools once they reopen.
This is to prevent the virus from further spreading, he said at a press conference in Accra.
“When schools reopen, they will not be available for religious activities. It is simple. We do not want too many interactions so that we can trace who might have come to the school with the virus. So, we want to keep it that only students and their lecturers are in school.
“When the junior and senior schools reopen, there will be no visitors allowed during the period that they are in school. Parents can no longer go and visit their kids for that period”, Dr Opoku Prempeh said.
Reacting to the reopening of schools across the country in a write-up, Mr Ablakwa noted: “It is totally dangerous, reckless and an utter dereliction not to make provision for teachers, non-teaching staff and students to be tested before placing all of them in the school environment for academic work. This must be fiercely resisted by the teacher unions, PTAs and SRCs.”
According to the North Tongu MP, “Second-year gold track SHS students should simply continue to stay at home. This would only worsen congestion and increase risk. The government must rescind its decision on this immediately.”
He further indicated: “It is absolutely surprising to hear government’s position being articulated to the effect that parents would not be allowed to visit their children in senior high schools. Directives like this are unreasonable and would only make parents keep their children at home and wait for the resumption of BECE and WASSCE for private candidates. What happens when a student in boarding school is taken ill? We are confronted by a vicious pandemic and it is naturally expected that parents would be more anxious and be on the lookout for their children than they will in normal times. What government could have considered are visiting protocols in line with best public health advice and not outrightly proscribing parental visits. Another clear indication that Government’s school reopening plan is not well thought out.
He empahasised: “The lessons from other jurisdictions such as France and South Korea where reopened schools in no time contributed to mass infections should guide us to make smarter choices driven by science and love for our children.”