City Schools Fail to Implement SOPs Amidst Covid-19 Surge

According to schools that URN visited, the headteacher indicated that it is hard to implement SOPs because learners find it hard to wear face masks the entire school day. Failure to implement SOPs in schools comes at time when the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is on the rise
P7 Pupils from St Martin Primary School-Mulago in class

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Many schools are still struggling to implement the set standard operating procedures at a time when Covid-19 cases in education institutions are alarmingly on the increase.

According to data from the ministry of health as of last week, 803 positive cases of covid-19 and one death had been recorded in schools nationwide.

In light of the appalling figures, Uganda Radio Network visited a number of schools within Kampala and Wakiso to find out the likely sources of infection in the institutions.

At many schools, we found that standard operating procedures such as wearing face masks, washing of hands and the two-metre social distancing during classes were not being observed.

For instance, at St Joseph Primary School, Nansana in Wakiso district the hand washing facility placed at the gate was not functioning and the school no longer takes the temperature of persons entering as required by the guidelines.

"Things are relaxed, they are no longer enforcing the guidelines," a man found exiting the school commented after seeing our reporter looking puzzled with the non-functioning handwashing station.

David Ssengendo, the headteacher, conceded that although they have tried their level best to implement the SOPs, maintaining social distancing is still a challenge.

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He adds that even ensuring that learners keep their masks on all the time is equally difficult. "This might be enforced while in class, but during break, lunch and other moments when learners are free it is very difficult," he adds.

Ssengendo worries that the implementation will become more difficult when pupils in lower classes return to school on June 7 this year. He argued so because it has already been difficult to enforce the sop among the older learner.

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At Kitante primary school, our reporter found the school administrators in a meeting trying to look for means of strengthening their capacity to implement the standard operating procedures.

Jane Kyakuwa, the headteacher of the school says they have decided to increase the number of handwashing stations and increase the social distancing. She says they are also planning to buy facial masks that will be given to learners who might report without one.

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At Dream Africa School located in Bukoto, at the school gate, the temperatures of learners and all visitors are taken and recorded in a book. However, the wearing of facial masks is not adhered to by the learners.

The headteacher, Faizan Mwangishu says the children need to constantly be remained to wear their masks.

Dr Misaki Wayengera, the chair of the ministerial COVID-19 Scientific Task Force says he is not surprised that schools are finding it hard to implement SOPs.

"There is an element of fatigue as the children are being forced to get used to a new normal where they study wearing masks," Dr Wayengera said.   "Like any human being, they are likely to stop using them. However, it is also important to note that there's a high cost associated with implementing the SOPs. Masks and even hand sanitizers are not cheap." 

The health ministry attributes the high number of cases in schools to the failure of schools to adhere to the set SOPs. They say, one of the most disrespected guidelines is social distancing.

Another SOP that is highly disregarded is the issue of limiting school visits. According to the education ministry school re-opening guidelines, school premises are supposed to be open only to learners and members of staff. However, a number of schools in the past weeks have had visitation weekends where parents entered schools and interacted with learners and teachers.

Also, several other people can be seen walking in and out of schools looking for school placements for their children.


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