There is no doubt that the fight against COVID-19 in Ghana has been severe and comprehensive with everybody contributing to this fight. However, it appears the fight against this virus will be much tougher than anticipated. With the closure of schools, the closure of the borders of Ghana, and the imposition of restrictions on the citizenry amidst other interventions, it early on seemed that we were winning this fight against the virus. Little did we know that things were going to take another turn in favour of the virus.
The government upon several considerations decided to partially ease the restrictions on Ghanaians so that life can gradually, return to normalcy. Final year students across our school system ranging from Basic Junior High School candidates to the tertiary institutions have been asked to return to school. However, as least expected, there have been daily records of students at the Senior High schools and the tertiary institutions contracting the virus which has provoked the anxiety and anger of the general populace on the government with most calling for the closure of schools. This does not seem to go down well with the government and it continues to let schools run as normal.
If the case is getting out of hand at the Senior High level where students are housed and catered for with various forms of accommodations to manage the cases coming in, and still we are finding it difficult, what will then happen if the virus occurs at the Basic level? It will be worst there. Below are the reasons.
- Lack of Education at the Basic level
Most of the pupils at the Primary and Junior High Schools are ignorant of the gravity of the COVID-19 Corona virus and are only treating it as if it were any other disease known to them. This poses a very big danger to pupils themselves and their colleagues including their teachers.
2. Much Attention Given to Senior High Schools than Basic Schools
Much attention is given to the Senior High schools than the Basic Schools. This definitely has its consequences. This is because, pupils will think that the virus can only affect students at the Secondary schools and not Basic schools just because all attention is directed towards the Secondary Schools to the neglect of the Basic schools
3. The Nature of Our School environment/Structures
Our school's environments are not conducive enough to make for proper observance of social distancing as expected of the students. Most schools have very high enrollment and pupils are overcrowded to as much as 100 pupils in one class with the dual and mono desks overburdened with as many as four pupils per desk. Besides, the nature of the school compounds of most schools are not tidy and thus serve as breeding places for pathogens. The pupils inevitably will go about playing and this can help the virus to spread around easily and faster.
4. Problem Having the Children Under Control
The school pupils at the Basic level are not easily controlled. They like to play around and with friends and items. Some are highly hyperactive and will not heed to any instructions regarding the observance of the COVID -19 safety protocols. Children by nature do not like to be restricted from play and therefore, will like to play around and thereby, holding each other. This is a fertile ground for the virus to spread.
5. Pupils Are Too Young to Wear Nose masks
It will definitely be difficult for the very little ones at the Daycare and Kindergarten to wear nose masks. This will not be easy for them to to do so. In as much as it has the tendency of depriving them of the needed oxygen, the pupils themselves will not understand why they should wear nose masks and they will even remove them and use them to play with their friends.
6. Economic Hardship
Most parents are not able to daily provide food for their wards before their wards go to school. Pupils mostly have the attitude of sharing their foods with their friends and since you do not know what your child is eating in school, there is the tendency of that child contracting the virus from a friend through the food they eat.
7. Food Vendors in the school
The services of food vendors in our Basic Schools cannot be overemphasized. Both teachers and pupils depend on the services of these vendors for their daily school routines. It will be difficult to control pupils concerning the buying of food on the school campuses. Most pupils walk for long distances to school and cannot do without buying food and water. The pupils even have to at times, share the one pack of sachet water through the same perforation on the pack. This can lead to the spread of the virus.
8. Exchange of Books and Other School items
The outbreak of COVID-19 in our Basic schools will be difficult to control due the exchange of learning materials amongst students and between students and teachers. Pupils and teachers borrow each other's items and return after using. If the virus is on one, it will certainly spread to many and the numbers will escalate making it difficult to manage.
9. High Cost to Government
It will be difficult for government to provide all the PPEs needed by all the Basic schools in Ghana regularly. When there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in our Basic Schools, the cost treatment will increase especially with the lack of isolation centres in our Basic Schools. The inability of Government to regularly procure PPEs to schools will hamper the fight against the virus and its management.
Due to stigmatization, pupils who contract the virus, or whose family member(s) contract the virus, will try to hide their identity and this can cause sudden increase in the number cases especially with asymptomatic spread.
In conclusion, caution should be taken to prevent the virus from entering into our Basic Schools.