Tween Talk with Eugenia Tachie-Menson: Back to School


It sure is good to be back! How were your Christmas holidays?  Anything unusually exciting happened?  My Christmas was fun and relatively quiet, spending time with family and close friends.

The highlight of my Christmas was attending a children’s dance recital organised by Vivie’s Dance Factory in East Legon-Accra. Held outdoors in the open space with physically distanced seating and all other safety protocols regarding the pandemic observed, the story of the birth of Jesus was told through hip-hop, afro beats and ballet dance moves with an African twist.

This 90-minute event was a beautiful and timely reminder of the Yuletide- Christmas songs and carols permeating the air, whilst ribbons and trimmings bounced off and around the stage ever so lightly. It was such a delightful time and momentarily, all seemed like life as usual until you looked at the person sat next to you…fully masked and a metre away from you, the sign of our new times!

We all have been waiting with bated breath to hear the President of Ghana inform us when we are to go back to school.  Since March 16 of 2020, schools have been on Lockdown as a measure to stem the spread of the pandemic, COVID-19, amongst us.

On Sunday January 3, 2021, the President announced that schools were to resume from today Friday January 15 ,2021.  Mixed are the feelings that have received this news; most of us (tweenagers) are beyond excited at the prospect of going back to school.  Oh the endless possibilities!!  Seeing our friends and teachers again, sitting behind a table and on a classroom-style chair, looking at the whiteboard and writing on it, hearing the bell ring for break time, catching up with your BFF…the works!

The rest of us (parents, educators) seem not to be so happy or comfortable about going back to school just yet.  To begin with, it’s the exact things that tweenagers are thrilled about going back to school for, that has them all bothered.  That students will be gathered in the classroom, or playground or washrooms…or share masks with friends, worst of all, hug their friends and hold hands, when the numbers of reported case are stacking up by the minute.

Whilst this mental tug-of-war persists, schools are feverishly putting in place measures, based on the national guidelines (and best practices from elsewhere, I’d imagine) to receive students in a safe environment.

From what I am gathering, many students are going back to school from Monday January 18, 2021.  Shall we talk about how you can ensure you stay safe in and especially upon your return from school?

Before leaving home for school, you must have:

  1. Your face mask – you will need to keep this on throughout the day, taking it off only when you have to eat or drink. Carry along 2 spares in case you might need to replace yours which is ripped or soiled with food
  2. Your sanitizer– make sure you have enough on you, in case there is no soap and or running water immediately. Your sanitizer should contain 70% alcohol to keep the virus off your hands
  3. Packed fruits and meals – Bringing your own meals will minimise your contact with people outside your school or classroom. Fruits also help keep the virus at bay by boosting your immune system; drink room temperature water rather than cold water

When you in school-

  1. Physical Distance-always keep a metre’s distance from everyone to reduce the risk of catching the virus should someone have it
  2. Be masked at all times – this is the surest way of protecting yourself and others too. Must you need to take off your mask (only to eat), you should insert one finger through one of the straps that secures the mask from behind your ear to unmask your face (when say, you have to drink water or eat).  When done, wash your hands under running water or sanitise them before using your finger to replace the mask the same way you removed it.
  3. Do.NTouch -no handshakes, hugs, arm-locking…you get the drift. Keep your hands to yourself even if your friends or anyone offers their hands or arms.  Remind them we cannot do that anymore so as to keep the virus at bay.

Your school will have a more comprehensive list of what to do and not do before and during school hours.  Let’s all be responsible for our own safety first, by adhering to the protocols set in place for the mutual benefit of us all.  Life must go on and this can only be if we all play our part- Happy New Year!

Eugenia Tachie-Menson

>>>The writer is a passionate educator who makes learning fun for children under 18 through co-curricular programmes. Through her charity organisation, Young Educators Foundation (YEF) in Ghana, the programmes portfolios have expanded to include literacy programmes in local languages as well as public speaking programmes for the youth.

Based on her work in education and with children, Eugenia is the recipient of many nomination and awards such as a presidential award for the contribution to education over the past decade in 2018. In 2019, she was named as one of the 74 individuals in Those who Inspire Ghana, a global programme that identifies nationals whose experiences are worth sharing. Eugenia believes that children are not the ‘future’, but rather the ‘present’ and so the need to invest in their total development. She is a regular contributor on radio and television shows as well as various public fora on this and related topics.


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