The Conference of Heads of Private 2nd Cycle Schools (CHOPPS) has described as premature for the country to return to full school activity.
According to the body made up of proprietors of private senior high schools, re-opening of schools prematurely by relaxing restrictions and resuming large public gatherings runs the risk of undoing the success chalked in the fight against the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
“A premature return to full school activity risks a second surge of infections and may call for second lockdown, especially, as there is a gush in the numbers”, the group noted.
In its roadmap proposal towards the re-opening of schools dated Tuesday, May 19, 2020, and presented to the Ghana Education Service over plans to safely re-open schools, CHOPPS argued that much as they are all eager to return to full school activity, they are equally concerned about the safety and well-being of children, teachers, non-teaching staff and the communities they operate in.
Therefore, instead of returning to full school activity, they will recommend the partial re-opening of schools to only final years students who will be writing the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE).
They have, therefore, recommended to government to re-open schools to final year students on June 15, 2020, with revision period beginning from June 16 to July 1, 2020 and a WASSCE timetable of July 2 to August 2, 2020.
Despite their call, the group still believes that re-opening of schools without putting in place the necessary precautionary measures could be deadly.
To this end, they have recommended to the GES to maintain physical distancing and also put in place the infrastructure and resources to test, trace and isolate new cases by initiating a solid medical screening process for every student who reports back to school.
The Ministry must make available, point thermometers, isolate students who may be coming from hot zones. Anyone in contact with contact with confirmed cases should be traced and tested. Since there is ample evidence of both asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread, it is necessary to test contacts to ensure that virus is contained. In addition, anyone who exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should be tested immediately”, the document containing the group’s roadmap towards re-opening of schools in part read.
The group further recommended to government to deploy public health tools that prevent the virus’s spread and align them with education strategies that meet the needs of students and involve teachers and non-teaching staff in the fight against COVID-19.
“The alignment of logistics, educational strategies and public health tools really matter, which is why the eyes and ears of frontline workers must be respected. Re-opening our schools first and foremost, we must do all we can to ensure students, teachers and support staff are safe at school and are not unknowingly transmitting or contracting the virus. This will require a number of steps that anyone who has consumed any news has heard repeatedly: screening and testing, contact tracing, and isolation and quarantine measures like frequent hand-washing and some degree of physical distancing”, the document in part further read.
The proposal by the group follows the invitation of inputs extended by the Ghana Education Service to all stakeholders in the country’s education sector into plans they are putting in place should the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo review the directives on the ban on public gatherings and closure of schools and order the re-opening of schools.