Schools across the country have been reopened solely for final year students as part of measures to ease restrictions in Ghana’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in his 10th televised address to the nation said the move is to prepare and enable the students to take their final examinations.
According to him, the reopening is with the appropriate enhanced safety protocols and social distancing adherence.
Final year university students are expected to resume school on Monday, June 15, 2020.
“All final year students of educational and training institutions, which are being managed by Ministries other than the Education Ministry, are to return to school on 15th June to complete their exit examinations”, the President said.
Three days after Ghana recorded its first two cases of Coronavirus, President Akufo-Addo on March 15, 2020, directed the closure of schools at all levels to curb the spread of the virus. The long closure became a top matter of discussion leaving many groups divided over the next steps that must be taken.
But after almost 10 weeks of closure, final year Senior High Schools (SHS) students are now to return to school on Monday, June 22, 2020, whereas their counterparts in Junior High Schools (JHS) go back to school on Monday, June 29, 2020.
“From Monday, 15th June 2020, the decision has been taken, after engagement with the Teacher Unions, whose co-operation I salute, to reopen schools and universities to allow for final-year junior high, senior high and university students to resume classes ahead of the conduct of their respective exit examinations. Indeed, final year university students are to report to their universities on 15th June; final year SHS 3 students, together with SHS 2 Gold Track students, on 22nd June; and final-year JHS 3 students on 29th June”, Nana Addo announced.
JHS 3 classes will comprise a maximum of 30 students, SHS classes a maximum of 25 students and University lectures will take place with half the class sizes.
However, teaching and learning activities for all other levels remain closed.
“Again, prior to the opening of schools and universities, the Ministry of Education, and the heads of public and private educational institutions, will fumigate and disinfect their institutions. Each student, teacher, and nonteaching staff will be provided with re-usable face masks by the Ministry of Education. For the avoidance of doubt, all other educational facilities, private and public, for non-final year students, will remain closed”.
“The Minister for Education, in the coming days, will outline, in detail, the specific guidelines for the safe reopening of our schools and universities” Nana Addo noted.
To reopen or not to reopen
This partial resumption of the schools comes amidst concerns raised by some quarters that the reopening will put the lives of teachers and students in danger.
Recently, the Ghana Education Service wrote to stakeholders in the education sector to make an input into the reopening of the schools in country since the President Nana Akufo-Addo ordered the closure of same.
But while teachers from the public schools asked the government to abort any possible plans of reopening schools, the Ghana National Council of Private Schools (GNACOPS) however argued otherwise insisting that it’s safe regardless of the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
For instance, Neogenics Education Group, an educational consultancy, urged the government to nullify the current academic year and start afresh in September following the Coronavirus outbreak in the country.
While many had suggested the reopening of schools for only final year students, other quarters advocated for the government to consider the track system if it plans to reopen schools