The reopening of schools is making headlines on several media discussions in Ghana today following government’s letter to the teacher Unions soliciting their views on a roadmap to the reopening of schools. It is emphatic to note that three out of the four teacher unions made up of NAGRAT; GNAT and CCT vehemently opposed any attempt by the government to reopen schools immediately should the ban on social/public gathering be lifted at the end of May.
This stand taken by these teacher unions have met a mixed reactions from the general public and other agencies operating within the educational sector. One popular personality who also joined the discourse on the reopening of schools is the good old Professor Emeritus Stephen Addei. This good old professor is reported to have suggested that teachers should be ready to accept 50% pay cut if they want to stay at home (I believe he thinks teachers enjoy staying at home). Recent utterances from this professor regarding teachers have made many to wonder whether old age or grey hair is synonymous with wisdom as found in the popular adage.
But the big questions one needs to ask are whether we are ready and prepared for schools to reopen amid the increasing numbers of confirmed cases? Do we as a nation have what it takes to ensure the safety of teachers and students should schools reopen today?
The answer to these two questions is a big no. To reopen schools now will mean government will have to provide both teachers and students with PPEs. This is something that looks highly impossible taking into consideration the number of students and teachers we have in Ghana. Even with the few health facilities we have, government finds it difficult providing them with adequate PPEs, we hear them complain day-in-day-out. Or you think parents can and will be willing to provide their wards with adequate PPEs to stay in school?
To reopen schools now will mean all students, teaching and non-teaching staff including their families will have to be tested to ascertain their Covid-19 status. And this testing cannot just be done ones but on a regular basis. Is this something that government can afford? Even with the few contacts of confirmed cases that are been traced it takes several days to get results of samples taken.
Also, conditions within the school setting will definitely not favor the observation of the WHO guidelines on curbing this pandemic. Classroom sizes are large in many school in Ghana talk less the situation in the dormitories in many boarding schools. How will a teacher explain to a KG or nursery pupil what social distancing is and let them understand why they should practice it? Will they (KG and nursery pupils) even be able to practice it if educated on it?
There is a saying that prevention is better than cure. In as much as we will want to see our children back in school, we must hasten with care. We have perfect examples of countries that have ease restrictions and went ahead to open schools and recorded a spike in cases to learn from. Or we also want to put ourselves in the same condition. It’s only a fool who doesn’t learn from the mistakes of others.
God helps those who help themselves. Let’s remain focus and God will help us curb the spread of this virus. Schools can reopen at a later date and measures can be kept in place to cover the time lost. It is only when you have life that you can think of other things.
@Emerging Hope group