- We have received reports of vehement community resistance to the use of schools as covid-19 isolation centres across the country. In the central region alone, four communities have resisted the use of their schools as quarantine centres. This includes Cape Coast, Assin Manso, Moree and Nyankumasi Ahenkro. The schools include St Augustine’s SHS, Aggrey Memorial Zion SHS, Oguaa Sec Tech, Moree SHS/Tech, Assin Manso SHS and Nyanumasi Ahenkro SHS. Our initial checks with community stakeholders suggests there was very little or no prior engagement leading to consensus with community leaders, prior to the attempted takeover of the schools for use as Covid-19 isolation centres.
- In as much as we reckon these are not normal times, as we battle a global pandemic, certain basic community entry, engagement, consensus protocols cannot be overlooked in attempting to convert schools into temporal Covid-19 isolation centers. This is even more paramount, taking into cognizance, the stigma that has occasioned the disease at the community level.
- We also observe the seeming lack of any ‘formal’ protocols guiding the access and use of educational facilities as Covid-19 isolation centres. Such scientific and social protocols, as pertaining in other countries, are usually owned by the Education Service and adopted by the Health and Local Government Service. They outline the processes and conditions for identifying, securing, occupying and maintaining educational facilities for use as Covid-19 isolation centers.
- We call on the GES to liaise with the Ghana Health Service to develop Covid-19 school entry and facility user protocols to guide efforts by Ghana’s Covid-19 response team in securing the public education facilities for use as isolation centers. The efficient implementation of the protocols would ensure adequate community level engagement and consensus prior to the use of schools as Covid-19 isolation centres, assurances of zero impact on community health and safety, and adoption of WHO prescribed public health and safety practices, including fumigation of the facility before and after use, and accompanying certification that the school facility is Covid-19 free.
Kofi Asare Executive Director