Within the past few days, the decision of the government to re-open schools to enable final year students to write their examination has generated a lot of heated debate on several media platforms, in the wake of confirmed COVID-19 cases in some schools.
While some groups have called on the government to urgently shut down the schools for students to return home, others have urged caution and effective management of cases in the schools to curtail community spread should the students be allowed back to their homes.
Four teacher unions including Teachers and Educational Workers’ Union, National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Coalition of Concerned Teachers Ghana (CCT-GH) as well as the National Parent Teacher Association of Ghana have demanded the closure of the schools and suspension of the impending examination to avert the spread of the disease.
They argued in a joint statement that the conditions and protocols which were to ensure the safety of teachers and students in the wake of the disease at the schools are “either limited or just not there”.
It, said, although those conditions upon which the decision to re-open schools looked formidable and assuring, the teacher unions have been left disappointed with the aftermath which has resulted in rising confirmed cases in schools.
“In the light of the above, we have no option than to ask that the schools be closed down. For how long can we stand and look, while our children are consigned to imminent death. We cannot stand any unwarranted catastrophe. Our children are our future, and we must protect them,” the statement noted.
On the other hand, the Child Rights International (CRI) recommended that science or medical evidence and not emotions must form the basis for the closure of schools in the country.
The group said it had not been proven yet that the students contracted the disease on school campuses or their homes and suggested to the Ghana Health Service (GHS) to provide in its daily data updates, reports on the behaviour of COVID-19 among children.
This, the group said, would help understand the pattern of COVID-19 among children to inform policy direction and to also know how serious the consequences are for children.
It further proposed to the Ghana Education Service and the GHS to provide maximum security and protection services to affected schools and also ensure that the protocols were observed.
It also called on the GES and GHS to provide the general exit mechanism for integrating children who are in schools back into the community after the examinations.
The Ghanaian Times is reluctant to take a position of the different arguments that have been raised by all concerned parties.
We, however, call for calm as the country navigates through these difficult storms which have impacted negatively on all aspects of our lives.
We are in complete agreement with calls that any decision on whether or not schools should be closed down must be based solely on scientific data.
Any decision, we believe, should be aimed at preventing the spread of the disease in our communities and not risking the lives of our dear students.
Closure of schools must be based on scientific data