Reopening of Schools in Ghana Amidst COVID-19 Resurgence Necessary- National Catholic Laity Chairman
In spite of the increases in the cases of the coronavirus pandemic and alarming deaths in the West African Country of Ghana, the Chairman of the National Catholic Laity Council who is an educationist says the reopening of Schools by Ghana’s President was necessary because the school children have stayed home for long.
“The reopening of schools amidst resurgence of COVID-19 and deaths is alarming but necessary because children have already stayed at home for close to one year,” Prof. Elias Sowley, the Chairman of the Ghana’s National Catholic Laity Council said in an interview on February 7, 2021.
According to him, the long stay at home by the children has stressed them and their parents and “I think if the protocols are enforced, the children will be better off in school because they can be closely monitored by the staff.
In an address on the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, January 3, 2021, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo officially announced the reopening of schools for Basic Schools on January 15, expressing the conviction that the circumstances are rife for such a move.
“We are satisfied that in the current circumstances the reopening of our schools is safe. So, from 15th January our children in Kindergarten, Primary and Junior High in both private and public schools will be back in schools,” Ghana’s Head of State said.
Barely two weeks after the reopening of Schools, there had been calls from a section of Ghanaians for the closure of schools due to the hikes in the COVID-19 cases in the West African country.
In an address to the nation on Sunday, January 31, 2021, Ghana’s leader said since only few reports of cases amongst students have been witnessed, he appealed to school authorities and teachers to enforce the guidelines provided by the Ghana Education Service.
In support of the President’s decision not to close down schools after reopening three weeks ago, Prof. Sowley urged Government to ensure that all schools receive generous supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
Government should also mount surveillance to determine the level of compliance. Heads of defaulting institutions should be sanctioned to serve as a deterrent,” he suggested.
“In my opinion a lockdown is not necessary. Government should rather enforce the necessary restrictions. It should adequately resource and support the enforcement agencies. This should be backed by sensitization since a lot of Ghanaians remain oblivious of the dangers associated with the pandemic,” he stated.
Touching on how Churches in Ghana were adhering to the COVID-19 directives but not being observed at many social gatherings, he said that “Christians adhere to directives from their leaders because they believe whatever they tell them is divinely inspired.”
However, he noted that “the ordinary Ghanaian on the street will not readily comply with government directives unless they are enforced by the relevant agencies.”
He further noted that “Due to over politicization of issues in the country, governments tend to tread cautiously in order not to erode the gains or destroy the ‘fortunes’ of their party.”
Prof. Sowley, a Plant Pathologist in the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Development Studies in Tamale, Northern Region of Ghana, said “This situation, has sometimes forced law enforcement agents to look on while government directives are flouted.”
He suggested that the Government of Ghana should mandate relevant state agencies to monitor all social gatherings to ensure compliance.
On her part, Sr. Olivia Umoh, DC, Director of Safe-Child Advocacy, a humanitarian agency that runs the St. Vincent de Paul Day Care Center in the Kumasi Archdiocese of Ghana says the focus of the reopening of schools should be the prioritization of the safety of the Children and the teachers to avoid any infections.
“We recognize the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brings to the world especially our various stakeholders. The safety and health of our children and staff remain our top priority and we are sure most of us are aware of the announcement made by the government regarding school reopening from creche to the tertiary level, she said.
Meanwhile, in his January 31 address, President Akufo-Addo reintroduced restrictions on some public gatherings with a call on Churches to intensify the adherence to protocols put in place by government in curbing the pandemic.
“To the revered leaders of our religious organisations, i.e. our churches and mosques, I entreat you to enforce, to the letter, the protocols relating to attendance, i.e. the two-hour duration, one-metre social distancing, mask wearing, use of sanitizers, and the presence of veronica buckets, liquid soap, and rolls of tissue paper, he said in address to the 30 million citizens.
Announcing the banning of funerals, weddings, concerts, theatrical performances and parties, the West African Leader said “Until further notice, funerals, weddings, concerts, theatrical performances, and parties are banned. Private burials, with no more than twenty-five people, can take place, with the enforcement of the social distancing, hygiene and mask wearing protocols.”
Source: Damian Avevor//Newswatchgh.com