From Monday, June 15, 2020, schools and universities will be reopened to allow final-year junior high school (JHS), senior high school (SHS) and university students to resume classes ahead of the conduct of their respective exit examinations.
The decision was taken following weeks of consultations and discussions between the government and the relevant stakeholders, including the various teacher unions.
As part of the enhanced response to the COVID-19 pandemic, final-year university students are to report to their universities on June 15; final-year SHS students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, on June 22, and final-year JHS students on June 29.
JHS 3 classes will have a maximum of 30 students; SHS 3 classes a maximum of 25 students, while university lectures will take place with half the class sizes.
We do appreciate the President’s directive that all final-year students of educational and training institutions which are managed by ministries other than the Education Ministry must return to school on June 15 to complete their exit examinations.
We are equally happy that in reopening the schools, efforts are being made to protect the students and teachers and maintain safety and health protocols, including the fumigation and disinfection of institutions, while each student, teacher and non-teaching member of staff will be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of Education.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread in many countries and poses a serious threat to our health, security and lives, while schools and universities face unprecedented challenges with closures, there is the need to minimise learning disruptions.
That is why we at the Daily Graphic wish to commend the President and all stakeholders for the measures so far put in place to reopen schools in phases and hope that all concerned will play their expected roles dutifully.
We are also aware of the issue about infrastructure or facilities and want to believe that these will be adequate, so that both the student and the teacher are not exposed to any danger.
While commending them, we also want to believe that the necessary steps will be taken to ensure that the children who will remain at home receive the maximum of educational instruction, taking into consideration the fact that not all parents can acquire the smart tools required to take their children through the online or virtual education.
Since the closure of schools, classroom instructions have been moved subsequently to parents’ homes through the Internet or via virtual means.
For some time now, virtual schools have become an alternative to popular traditional, brick-and-mortar schools and advocates promote the former as a way for kids to complete lessons at their own pace in almost any location.
Unfortunately, in an economy which hasn’t been able to provide electricity for all parts of the country, and where only a privileged few have access to the Internet, the objective of getting schoolchildren to complete schoolwork at their own pace and from any location is difficult.
Even where there is electricity, there are often disruptions or interference with Internet connectivity.
Also, apart from very well-to-do parents whose children have access to laptops or computers and smart phones, in most cases, parents or guardians themselves do not have access to these smart gadgets, not to talk of making same available to their children or wards.
The Daily Graphic shares in the fears expressed by some parents regarding the use and possible crowding in dormitories and, therefore, the inability of their children to observe physical distancing protocols.
We are also aware that some school parks have been converted into satellite markets, and it will, therefore, be impossible for schools and the markets to operate from the same environment.
We want to believe that those responsible for ensuring that the fumigation is done within schools will see to that, as directed by the President, to create a healthy environment and make parents relax concerning the safety of their children.
Source: Daily Graphic
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