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August calls for preparation for back-to-school

Fri, 6 Aug 2021 Source: Joseph Kingsley Eyiah

“When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3

In Canada, the House of Commons voted this year to designate August 1 as the annual commemoration of the abolition of slavery-the emancipation of slaves.

As the Emancipation Day was officially observed the first time, one Canadian who is a decedent of a slave, Judy Williams used the occasion to reflect on how her own ancestors’ lives were changed on that historic day in 1834.

Long time ago? No! Just about two and half centuries ago. Yes! August that year became a month of preparation for hopes and dreams of freedom that Judy’s ancestors held for their children.

In Ghana, August 4 this year was celebrated as Founders’ Day to commemorate the spirit and struggles of our ancestors in fighting for independence for motherland, Ghana. On the same day this year, Ghana witnessed a huge demonstration by the youth of the country asking the leaders of Ghana to ‘fix the country’. Thus, August is a month of preparation for political leadership of the country to begin solving the mounting problems including corruption, insecurity, deplorable roads, poor housing, inequitable education infrastructure and high cost of living among others in the nation.

August is also the month of preparation for students in the Ontario Province of Canada to return to school/the classroom after the summer break.

Normally, parents and students as well as teachers engage in preparations for back-to-school with parents purchasing school materials and dresses for their kids whilst teachers set up their classrooms for learning to welcome their students.

Students on other hand prepare themselves for school by changing their routines at home during the holidays to meet school timelines. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed greater responsibilities on governments in the preparation for students to return to the classroom/learning after the summer holidays during the 2021/2022 school year.

For example, in Ghana, the government has had to stagger the return to school for students at the various levels of the education ladder to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among students.

In Canada, Ontario students will return to the classroom full-time in September with remote learning continuing to be an option, the province confirmed in its official back-to-school strategy — but the plan is thin on details about how schools will manage COVID-19 cases and outbreaks.

As our children return to school this year parents everywhere are concerned about their kids being infected with Covid-19 new dangerous variant (delta variant) at school.

Normalizing Covid-19 for Schools

There is the urgent need to normalize Covid-19 for our schools as one top Canadian medical doctor has expressed as one of the important preparation efforts to return our students back to school.

"Schools are safest where we maintain high rates of community immunity," Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore said at a news conference.

However, the Ontario government’s plan released this month doesn't indicate what level of transmission in the surrounding community might affect a school's operations.

As a parent and educator as well as a social commentator, I call on our governments (both in Ontario and Ghana) to pay particular attention to making school environments safe and conducive to learning and teaching.

We need smaller class sizes, protective materials for teachers and students as they return to school and high vaccination rates in our local communities against Covid-19.

All said and done, parents must also ensure that their children's backpacks contain hand sanitizers and healthy packed lunches among other necessary schools materials such as writing tools and notebooks before heading to school.

Let us not just shout ‘peace and safety’ whilst we fail to prepare for it. This is the month of preparation. Be vigilant!

Columnist: Joseph Kingsley Eyiah