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No mandatory testing of learners as Schools reopen this Month

KAMPALA- As government prepares to re-open schools in the country starting with candidate classes later this month, the health ministry has said it will not be carrying out mandatory testing for all learners before they restart school.  

This comes after government said that all finalists at different education levels will be reporting to schools amid COVID-19 resurgence with several parents and guardians worried about safety of their children. The ministry has set September 20 as the reopening day for finalists. 

Dr Charles Olaro, the director of Clinical services says the health ministry has been carrying out assessment surveys and they know where the disease is. He asserts that for the start, schools, learners and teachers will have to follow the given guidelines.

Dr Olaro says the only testing government will carry out on learners or teachers or school staff will be after an alert or positive case is reported. This is in line with the health ministry’s recent decision to make people pay for testing. Individuals who want to know their COVID-19 status have to pay Shillings 240,000. 

Earlier proposals had hinted on the possible testing of all learners. However, during the recent presidential address, the President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni noted that this could very expensive for the government to afford.  

Dr Diana Atwine, the health permanent secretary  said that the ministry is working  with their Education counterparts to make sure that all learners are safe when the school term re-opens.

“The ministry of education is working towards opening schools and we are working with them to make sure all learners are safe. Since the opening will be for finalists,w e believe that it’s possible to safe guard all learners if SOPs are followed ,” Atwine said.   

According to tentative school reopening strategy from the education ministry, all government schools both primary and secondary will receive a minimum of six, foot and hand operated washing facilities, two temperature guns, one plastic spray pump and 20 liters of Jik disinfectant.

All learners will be expected to wear a mask while on school premises. In addition, they will give schools hand washing facilities, soap and Jik. But this only applies to public schools. Private schools will have to procure their own.   

As of now, it is not clear how schools will be operating. There are suggestions that schools will have to either operate as day or boarding schools.

A total of 15 million learners have been home since March 2020 after President Yoweri Museveni closed all school as a means to forestall the spread of the disease in schools. URN

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