The Ghana Education Service, in consultation with relevant stakeholders, took a decision to enable second year students in Senior High Schools and Junior High Schools to return to school yesterday.
They are to remain in school until 14 December as announced by the President in his 16th COVID-19 national address. In fact, the president outlined in that address that Junior High Schools will be operating with class sizes of thirty (30), while Senior High Schools with class sizes of twenty-five (25).
He added that SHS 2 and JHS 2 students will be in school for ten (10) weeks to study, and write their end of term examinations. This has been long in coming because parents and guardians were beginning to feel the effect of long periods of inactivity for their wards and were contemplating when conditions would favour a return to school.
Prior to the opening, all Junior and Senior High Schools have been fumigated and disinfected in line with COVID health protocols, and to serve as a precaution to any chance of the virus hiding and spreading.
As was the case for the resumption of academic activities for final year tertiary students, all junior and senior high school students will be given reusable face masks. While all these signify a gradual return to normalcy, it is imperative to observe that assemblies and sporting events remain banned.
Additionally, the use by outsiders of school premises for other activities is still not allowed. This suggests a phased-out and gradual return to normalcy, even though reservations remain amongst some parents and guardians about the imminent return to school and would rather the country monitors the virus a bit more closely.
While their concerns are genuine, we must acknowledge that the pandemic cannot ruin our lives and students/pupils must not be denied the benefit of education simply because of a viral threat. Even though the virus has not been fully contained globally, many jurisdictions are opening up schools and other activities so that people can get on with their lives.
Hastening to open schools and educational institutions has come with its own risks as we have witnessed in South Korea and the UK recently. However, the academic calendar cannot be unduly disturbed by the pandemic outbreak and it behooves on governments to navigate their way around the disease by ensuring that lives are not disrupted or ground to a halt.