Aceng Backtracks on Early Closure of Schools

The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, has backtracked on her earlier proposal of cutting the school term short as one of the means to stop the deadly Ebola Virus Disease from spreading into schools.

During a televised interview broadcast on Sunday, Dr. Aceng proposed that the education ministry should consider ending the term earlier for non-candidate classes to reduce the risk of the disease spreading in schools.

However, the comment raised eyebrows among parents and educationists saying that with the schools returning from unprecedented school closure that lasted for two years, a fresh school closure should be a last resort option.

While speaking to residents of Kassanda at Kalwana Church of Uganda on Tuesday, Dr. Aceng assured parents, said that schools will not be disrupted despite the rise in cases of Ebola virus disease. 

Aceng added that students exhibiting symptoms should stay at home and alert authorities to pick them up. She added that anyone who becomes ill at school should notify the medical staff right away so that they can evacuate them for testing.

Our reporter noticed two schools in Kassanda that were neighboring Kalwana that had been designated as an isolation centre, but the minister said that even those schools would not close if they could adhere to the suggested standard operating procedures.

Last week, the Ministry of Health announced that at least six pupils from three schools in Rubaga Division in Kampala were among the 47 Ebola patients fighting for their lives at various treatment centres in the country. 

When President Yoweri Museveni ordered among others; the freezing of movement of vehicles, Boda Bodas, and people from Mubende and Kassanda to other districts due to the outbreak of Ebola, schools were left open.

However, the education ministry instructed schools in and out of Mubende and Kassanda to reinstitute the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures in order to stop the potential spread of both diseases in school communities.

The precautions included restricting access to visitors, but many schools outside the two districts did not take the advice seriously. Even recently when the ministry emphasized on the ban on visitors many schools defied the directive.

The State Minister for Higher Education, John Chrysostom Muyingo also said that headteachers and parents should take the guideline seriously to ensure the safety of learners, teachers, and other staff in schools.

Meanwhile, UNICEF has started providing schools with supplies such as hand washing materials to combat the deadly viral disease starting with those at the epicenter in Mubende and Kassanda.     

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