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Uganda Warns Schools Against Hiking Fees After Reopening

The Ugandan government has refrained all schools from hiking school fees when learning activities resume for candidates.

After the national taskforce and the President agreed upon September 20 as the resumption date for finalists, the Ministry of Education has issued a number of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in addition to the ones earlier issued by the Health ministry, that all schools should enforce prior to reopening.

As written in the draft guidelines for reopening schools for primary Seven, Senior four, Senior six, and other finalists, no school is allowed to increase fees. Instead, the education ministry urged all education institutions to engage parents to adopt flexible fee payment arrangements and allow payments in appropriate installments.

“Management and governance of all education institutions shall review institutional annual work plans and budgets to realign them with the changes in educational institution programs and priorities. Education institutions shall not increase fees,” the ministry’s draft proposals read in part.

Mitigating the spread of Coronavirus in Schools

According to other key SOPs in the draft statement, the number of learners in a classroom or hall of any size for a lesson or other purposes should not exceed 70. The ministry also banned career days, class days, groups, and close contact co-curricular activities.

General assemblies that converge a multitude of students and Official visitation days have also been banned in all education institutions until further notice.

Mid-morning and lunch breaks shall be staggered and fully supervised by the teachers for adherence to social distancing, wearing of facemasks, and handwashing.

Institutions with large numbers of candidates and final year classes have been advised to operate in morning and afternoon shifts.

“Where this is applicable, the morning shift shall end at 12:30 pm and the afternoon shift shall start at 2 pm to allow for disinfection of the affected surfaces before the next shift. An alternate-day attendance schedule where different streams attend on alternate days as may be deemed appropriate, in a bid to ensure that numbers are manageable,” the ministry says in the statement.

All external examinations organized for primary and secondary students have been banned.

Education institutions must make use of other available rooms to re-arrange the sitting of learners to ensure the required social distancing. This may include the use of libraries, laboratories, dining halls, and main halls.

The Ministry of Education recommends the removal of temporary partitions from classrooms that have them to create larger rooms for ample sitting and ventilation.

Schools are also required to have in place a foot-operated handwashing facility at a strategic point of access to each block (and floor where applicable) used by learners and staff.

The ministry also recommends the use of safe temporary shelters such as tents, like classrooms. Open-air spaces, such as tree shades may be improvised as temporary venues for some classes.

In boarding schools and institutions, after-class afternoon and evening programs shall not involve team or group and close contact sports or activities and shall be supervised by a dedicated team of staff and every dormitory shall have a resident tutor to supervise adherence to the SOPs.

Schools shall restrict teachers from part-timing in multiple institutions and thereby increasing the risk of spreading infection among institutions.

School Managers Undergo Online Training

On Wednesday, the government conducted an online training of school managers in the enforcement of SOPs ahead of the reopening. The training, which was conducted by Dr. Musenero, involved heads of schools and officials from the education sectors on the enforcement of some SOPs.

Dr. Musenero said schools should not ask for exorbitant requirements when they reopen because parents do not have money.

She asked heads of schools to be keen with their learners and follow all the SOPs.

“Pupils in day schools should be screened for body temperature at the gate as they enter into the school and at the entry into the classroom. Day schools pose a very high risk of infection because students pick the disease from schools and take it back to the community,” Dr. Musenero said.

She said when schools register a Covid-19 case, they should block entry into the school, isolate the sick child, and contact parents immediately.

A number of teachers and heads of schools who attended yesterday’s Zoom training dubbed “Presidential scientific team on Covid-19 training to education sector on the implementation of SOPs in education institutions,” questioned how schools, especially Universal Primary Education schools and Universal Secondary Education schools, with huge numbers of learners, will implement the SOPs.

The spokesperson of Kampala National Private Educational Institutions Association, Mr. Hasadu Kirabira, pointed at the gaps in the implementation of the SOPs and said a number of schools had not received them yet.

Also, among the resolutions was that every school had to have a well-trained health worker in case a positive case emerges.

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