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Minister Janet Museveni on Reopening of Schools, ‘children below 6yrs to stay home’

SCHOOLS REOPENING: The Education Minister and first lady Mrs. Janet Museveni has clarified that nursery schools handling children aged three to six will remain closed throughout the Covid-19 season.

Janet explained that the pint behind this is that this particular age bracket doesn’t wear face masks and are at high risk of contracting respiratory infections like coronavirus.

“Vaccination against Covid-19 will be gradually rolled out beginning with the most vulnerable population. Children aged 16 years and below may not be eligible for the currently available vaccines. This means that we cannot wait to vaccinate learners before opening education institutions for the rest of the classes,” Ms Museveni said during a media briefing at State House Nakasero in Kampala on Friday.

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She added: “Pre-primary schools shall not be reopened for the time being.”

Although Ms Museveni noted that institutions which opened for candidate classes failed to maintain the standard operating procedures (SOPs) like social distancing in dormitories and at meal time, and that often learners and their teachers were seen without masks, more students will be allowed to join the finalists as they approach sitting their national examinations.

To start with, Primary Six, Senior Three and Senior Five students will report on March 1 to continue from where they stopped for 12 weeks and close on May 21.

Mr Alex Kakooza, the ministry of Education permanent secretary, however couldn’t explain on Friday which term this will be, insisting their concentration will be on completing the content that wasn’t covered since March 20 last year when President Museveni ordered closed all education institutions following the coronavirus outbreak.

A total of 257 students are said to have contracted the virus while at school when they first reported in October.

The virus that has now become a global threat was first detected in China before spreading to other parts of the world.

Subsequently, countries instituted a number of measures, including travel bans and lockdowns to curtail it’s further spread as they paced to find it’s origin, characteristics and cure.

Schools are expected to keep fewer learners at any one point to avoid crowding that could facilitate transmission of the virus.

Thus, Ms Museveni added Primary Four and Five pupils, Senior One and Two students will report only after Primary Seven candidates complete Primary Leaving Examinations on March 31 and finalists in secondary schools leave in April.

Schools have been warned against administering exams to learners as a promotional tool to the next class but were instead asked to consider attendance, assignments and continuous assessment.

The government plans to end this academic year which should have stopped in December in July before a new programme is rolled out.

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The universities were also cleared to reopen from March 1 but in phases by permitting fewer students at intervals although their colleagues in tertiary institutions were cleared to fully reopen.

Ms Museveni said their plan is to see all universities conduct studies online except for science students who will be called for a face-to-face practical sessions.

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