Ebola Outbreak; Cabinet Considers Early Closure of Schools

The government is highly considering early closure of schools as one of the ways to prevent the likely spreading of Ebola Virus Disease into learning institutions.

URN understands that this has been one of the issues that were presented before cabinet during its weekly sitting held on Monday.  

Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the minister in charge of basic education, has since confirmed the development.

Dr Kaducu however hastened to inform our reporter that a final decision had not been made by the time she stepped out to attend to the release of Grade III teachers’ examination results. She further added that in the event the proposal is approved, the ministry will publicly notify the public before Wednesday this week, if not earlier.

Currently, the school term still has a full month before learners break off for holidays given the fact that the 2022/2023 schools and other institutions calendar indicates that the third term ends on December 9. It remains unclear how many days or weeks will be chopped off the term if cabinet chooses to early closure but at least it has been said that learners in candidate classes will not be disrupted.  

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Minister of Health, first suggested reducing the term in a televised interview held a week ago. At that time the minister expressed worry that if the feared disease starts circulating in the school environment it might become difficult for them to manage it.

The comment raised eyebrows among parents and educationists who were 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.

With such responses to her proposals, the minister who was addressing residents of Kassanda at Kalwana Church of Uganda last Tuesday, assured parents that schools will not be disrupted despite the rise in cases of Ebola virus disease.

It should be recalled that the Ministry of Health recently reported that at least six students from three schools in Kampala’s Rubaga Division had been infected the Ebola virus. The announcement caused concern and the ministry of education immediately ordered the reinstatement of Standard Operating Procedures in schools.

However, many schools have been flouting the guidelines. For instance, although schools were told to stop all visitation and leavers parties, the majority defied and held their activities as they had planned.

Ebola was detected on September 19 in Uganda and has spread to seven districts, according to the last figures shared by the health ministry indicating that they have so far had 135 confirmed cases and 53 deaths in the country.

On October 15, President Yoweri Museveni ordered a three-week lockdown in Mubende and the nearby Kassanda districts. The lockdown in the two Ebola-affected regions was extended on Saturday for an additional three weeks, but the president reiterated his opposition to imposing a Covid-like lockdown across the country to stop the spread of the disease despite a diconserting rise in cases.

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