Even though the directive by the President to reopen schools has been welcomed by many, especially private school owners, some parents and teachers are still not convinced about the timing, as new developments show COVID-19 cases are on an astronomic rise.
Parents of particularly, young kids, say they are deeply worried and concerned about the directive, especially when they can’t trust the judgement of such young ones in observing the preventive protocols outlined by health professionals and government. For some of these parents, it is better to let these kids stay home than to expose them to such a deadly virus.
In an interview with the B&FT, Deidre Markin-Tetteh, a mother of four children aged, 3, 4, 7 and 10 expressed her disapproval of the President’s directive, saying: “Even though he had earlier mentioned we may go to school in January, the numbers had gone up after the Christmas. So, I was hoping with the numbers going up after his last speech, and the decision taken by Nigeria on postponing school, Ghana would have also done same.
Initially, I had decided to make them go until when the numbers started going up again. But the most alarming was when a few of my friends lost relatives to COVID-19 last week. It became more real and that is when I decided not to let the kids out of the house for now,” Mrs. Markin-Tetteh said.
Another parent, Hajia Faiza, also a mother of four, told the B&FT she is not convinced about the adequacy of the measures in place in schools to guarantee safety of the children. She said she took the time to visit her children’s school on Monday, 18, and based on what she witnessed, she will not allow her children aged 6, 4 and 2, who are in class 1, kindergarten 1, and creche respectively, to go back to school just yet.
“I am not convinced to let them go. I thought government was ensuring that all schools take some serious measures, but no. When I went to the school this morning, I was expecting to see disinfectant sprays at the entrance of classes where kids will be sprayed before they walk in, temperatures of parents and kids being checked at the main gate before entry, among other things. But I realized that the only thing they had were veronica buckets and they did not check our temperatures on entry,” she lamented.
Ms. Faiza further called on authorities to intensify education on causes and preventive measures of the virus, involving both school authorities and parents as well.
Teachers on the other hand, have met the decision to reopen schools with mixed reactions. While some are happy being back to school after the long break due to the pandemic, they are also scared about handling students and pupils, considering the hike in numbers of cases recorded lately.
“We are happy as teachers to get back to school after the long break, but I am quite scared. New cases are recorded every now and then, and to think of handling more than 50 students from different homes is quite dangerous,” a primary school teacher in a government school in Accra, Huda Saeed told the B&FT.
She added: “From my experience just this morning, pupils, especially those in the lower primary, are not observing protocols, i.e., social distancing or even wearing face masks. Some of those wearing the masks are also not wearing them properly, and only a few came along with hand sanitizers. There is only one veronica bucket here, but even without soap. We are really at risk.”
As at the time of filing this report, Mrs. Saeed said teachers had received a bottle each of sanitizer and two reusable face masks from the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT); and nose masks were being distributed to students who don’t have them, but that was after they had mingled with other colleagues.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his 21st COVID-19 address to the nation on January 3, 2021, directed that all schools resume, as government has put in place measures to make schools safe for pupils, students and their teachers alike.
In the Presidents 22nd address Sunday 17, January, he revealed that over the past week, the Ghana Health Service has been recording 200 new cases of the virus daily, with the number of confirmed deaths also increasing from 338 to 352 within the period.
It has, therefore, become urgent for government and relevant authorities to make available all necessary logistics in all schools to help battle the pandemic, and to intensify education about the virus, as schools have resumed.