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Education, Health Officials Meet Over Reopening Of Schools

Officials from the ministries of education and health and other experts are meeting to discuss the possibilities of reopening education institutions.

Recently, President Yoweri Museveni had tagged the reopening of schools to the vaccination of all learners including those between 12 and 18 years.

However, over the past week, the government has been under pressure to look at other possible alternatives. They argue that the desired vaccination plan might not be achieved any time soon due to the shortage of vaccines in the country.

The ICT and National Guidance Minister, Dr Chris Baryomunsi notes that authorities in the concerned ministries are currently locked in a meeting to look for possible solutions and strategies that might inform the reopening.

According to Dr Baryomunsi, the meeting is currently taking place in State House Entebbe.

Dr Baryomunsi asked the teachers to put aside all the myths and misconceptions they had on the covid19 vaccines so that they go for vaccination as one of the steps towards the safe reopening of education institutions.

Initially, the reopening of school was focused on vaccinating teachers and non-teaching staff. However, by the time the country underwent the second wave, only 10 percent of them had received their first jab.

Data obtained from the health ministry show as more vaccines have been delivered by Thursday this week nearly 38 percent (accounting for 209,336 teachers out of 550,000) had been vaccinated.

Several groups and experts have come up with alternative options for reopening schools. They include enforcement of Standard Operating Procedures, beefing up inspections, and COVID19 surveillance to eliminate the possible concealment of cases, a factor that led to a surge of infection before the second school closure in June this year.

Others have also advised the government to think of having shortened learning sessions, for instance making a term to last one month, as it would be easier to control infections and remove the laxity in adhering to SOPs that normally comes with long sessions.

Meanwhile, the Uganda National Students’ Association-UNSA leadership has also advised the government to borrow a leaf on how other neighbouring countries like Rwanda and Kenya have been able to reopen.

Moses Ariho, interim UNSA chairperson says that the closure of schools has negatively affected learners by causing time lag for their academic journey in addition to exposing them to different effects of sexual abuse and drug abuse among others.

While speaking on international youth day celebrations held on Thursday at Kololo ceremonial grounds, President Museveni noted that his government would not be forced into reopening schools. The president re-echoed his earlier stand that the government’s priority is saving lives first.


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