The Ministry of Health has asked schools to stop cancelling school visitation days allegedly due to fears that parents might expose learners to COVID-19, a pandemic that has paralysed the globe.
This comes after three schools; Mugwanya Preparatory School, Kabojja, Uganda Martyrs Girls Boarding Primary School and St Mary’s Colleges Kisubi sent parents messages stopping them from visiting school premises due to the pandemic.
The Director-General of Health Services Dr Henry Mwebesa says that schools do not need to stop parents from visiting their children. He adds that the cancelling of school visitations is an exaggerated reaction to the disease because to date, there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Uganda.
“…We do not have a case of Coronavirus in the country. The current situation does not warrant stopping visitation days. As of now, parents and children are considered as being disease-free,” Dr Mwebesa said.
He says that instead, schools should set up measures to ensure that both parents and children are safe during visitation weekends.
Similarly, Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng has said that the ban is causing unnecessary anxiety which might affect studies yet the Ministry has already put in place guidelines that should help in taking precautionary measures against possible infection with the acute respiratory disease.
“It will not help students who are at school. They will do more worrying than studying,” she said while addressing journalists this morning. This is happening because of mixed messages that are going around but schools should remain open and parents should be able to access their children. Schools should only follow our guidelines for mass gatherings. All they should do is encourage hand washing and use of sanitizers”.
The Ministry of Health says that schools should openly provide information about the disease to both learners and members of staff. Schools are so being asked to: provide hand washing facilities around school compounds and outside toilets, reduce overcrowding in dormitories and classrooms and to frequently disinfect classrooms and dormitories.
Schools should also discourage spitting in public. In addition to this, schools are being asked to prepare and provide facilities where learners suffering from cough and flu can be quarantined as testing takes place to confirm whether they are sick or not.
In countries that have registered high numbers of infected people like China and Italy, schools have been closed until further notice.
Alex Kakooza, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education says that schools should adhere to the guidelines that they have been sent.
“They should not stop parents from visiting their children. We have sent them guidelines and they should follow them instead of keeping parents away from schools. The only thing they are expected to do is follow the set guidelines,” Kakooza said.
Globally, the number of people infected with the disease is ever-increasing. As of today, over 137,000 people globally have been infected. In Africa, the latest country to declare a case is neighbouring Kenya, bringing the number of countries with cases in Africa to 13.