While the health ministry says it plans to carry out investigations, officials from the ministry of education told URN that they are unaware of any learners being infected with COVID-19 from a school setting.
The ministry of health is going to investigate the
source of COVID-19 infections in schools following a number of cases reported
in Masaka and Gulu districts.
The development comes after
45 students from
some educational institutions reportedly tested positive for the virus
in Masaka district sending fear among parents and the general public.
Dr. Charles Olaro, the director of curative
services at the health ministry says the occurrence of the cases is something
that needs to be investigated because it shows something is not right.
He says they have dispatched district
surveillance teams to carry out investigations aimed at discovering the sources
of infection of the disease
"If schools are following the SOPs as we
issued them, we do not expect cases of COVID-19 to be reported. The occurrence of
the cases shows that something is not right. Either the schools are not
following SOPs or they are allowing visitors to enter the school which
endangers the students," says Dr. Olaro.
in; “Our team are...
out...to get infected.”//
According to the Standard Operating Procedures that
all schools are expected to follow to stop the spread of the disease
resumption of learning in October, schools are supposed to provide hand
facilities, learners are also expected to keep their masks on
and maintain a physical distance of at least two meters at all times (be
classes or even in their dormitories).
In addition to this, visitors are not supposed to
be allowed into schools. All schools are supposed to either operate as a day
school or a boarding school. In the case of boarding schools, the schools are
supposed to be fenced well and both teachers and learners are not supposed to
leave the school premises to interact with community members that might be infected.
it should be noted that although access to the schools was limited by SOPs this
is difficult to enforce because different people including parents, inspectors and
service providers are constantly visiting schools.
While the health ministry says it plans to carry out
investigations, officials from the ministry of education told Uganda Radio Network - URN that they are
unaware of any learners being infected with COVID-19 from a school setting.
Ismael Mulindwa, the director of basic education and also
the head of the education ministry COVID-19 task force when contacted for
comment denied the reports of infected learners. He says they have teams of
inspectors across the country but they are yet to receive any report and only
seeing ‘sweeping statements’ in the media.
however, says that even in the event that
there are reported cases, the government issued out guidelines on how
be handled without causing panic among the public. “We have not said
COVID-19 will not reach in our schools. That would be a lie, the
pandemic is in the communities and the schools are not in a vacuum. If
there is a suspected
case, there are protocols to follow.”
According to the guidelines, each school must have a COVD-19 task force that file timely situation reports to their
district counterparts. In case any learner or another person within the school
is suspected to have contracted COVID-19 or present symptoms of the disease, is
first isolated in a special room set up at the school, and later health workers
are called. Before the reopening, every school was attached to a health
At the health facility level, the suspect is tested
and if he or she turns out to be positive is retained or referred for
treatment. However, Dr. Olaro explains that the rest of the learners from the same
school are not quarantined but they are advised to continue observing
standard operating procedures.
to reopening for other classes
From day one government noted that the phased
reopening which started with 1.2 million finalists could be reviewed based on
inspection reports. A month after the resumption of classroom teaching,
Mulindwa says they are soon sitting to review the situation before a decision
“Our teams led by the directorate of education
standards, district inspectors of school, and COVID-19 task forces at the local
government are compiling reports which will soon be reviewed. But so far, the
situation is not so bad,” says Mulindwa.