Teachers face daunting task enforcing COVID-19 protocols

At Manle Dede Basic School: pupils running from a teacher without their nose masks

A cross-section of teachers from public basic schools have expressed their concerns on what a daunting task it will be trying to enforce adherence to COVID-19 protocols among students, especially outside the classroom.

Speaking to the B&FT under anonymity, some teachers of public schools in Accra indicated that government may do its best by providing the necessary safety requirements such as nose masks, hand sanitisers and Veronica buckets among others to the schools, which teachers would ensure students put the masks on when in the classroom – but when they are outside the classroom it becomes difficult to enforce.

“This morning, for instance, some of our pupils came without nose masks; and when we enquired from them why they are not wearing a mask, we realised most of them had put it in their pocket claiming they cannot breathe well. We forced them to put them on, which they did; but during break-time, most of them took them off while playing with their friends on the field.

“We know teaching children is a herculean task, so it will take time to get them to comply – but a disadvantage is that it may be too late for this if we are not lucky enough, and one of them gets infected. The dangerous moments that require extra attention is from their homes to school, during break periods, and on their way back to their homes from school especially,” a public-school teacher told the B&FT.

Students loitering around without nose masks

At the Manle Dada Basic School, South- La, a journalist from the B&FT chanced upon a situation where a teacher was chasing students with a cane to stop playing and go home after school closure – but the students were running around the school with the teacher, which is a clear indication of the heavy task that lies ahead for teachers.

Sir Patrick, a basic-six teacher in a public school at Odumase-Krobo, Eastern Region, indicated that his school is yet to receive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the district Ghana Education Service (GES) secretariat; but most of the pupils come to school with their own nose mask. However, the challenges remain similar to the aforementioned.

“The boys have missed their colleagues, and so are interested in playing with them on the field and chatting with them rather than sitting quiet in the classroom; and they always shift their mask to the jaw level to talk to their friends.  Even as adults, we sometimes get tired and want to remove it for a little relief; likewise, this should be expected of the children, so it’s going to be a difficult task going forward,” he said.

Some teachers also expressed fear for their own lives considering the behaviour of pupils coupled with the increasing number of cases being recorded in the country in recent times. “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,” said Huda Saeed, a teacher in Accra.

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