Private schools owners in Soroti city are opposed to the re-opening of schools this year. President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday announced that schools will resume operations next month on October 15 starting with the return of candidates and final year students in university and tertiary institutions. Schools have been closed since March 20 when the country registered its first coronavirus case.
Paul Etiang, the chairperson Soroti Private Schools Association and the director Soroti Education Center says government has not come out clearly on safety measures for teachers and learners who do not reside in school premises.
“Government itself is not prepared!" says Etyang. "Yes we need education, but look where we shall get children to be promoted to next class since we are giving priority to candidate class."
According to Etiang there is a need to psychologically prepare the learners from COVID-19 related effects.
“We have not given time to prepare our children psychologically, most of them are already traumatized when they had to leave schools abruptly...So where is that money, schools have been closed for the last 6 months, we have not been getting any money…Let us have more time, we suggest let us just declare this a dead year, we start in January [next year] such that these people prepare psychologically and begin looking ahead with or without COVID. COVID is not going anywhere, we would have prepared ourselves pyschologically that if my child falls sick this is what I need to do," said Etiang.
John Robert Omoding, the associate assessor, who doubles as the head teacher for Aten primary schools said instead of rushing to re-open schools which could worsen the spread of the virus in the country, the government should prioritize on how to improve on the quality of education next year.
“We have been told to re-open but no measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of students and teachers,” asked Omoding.
"Our problem is social distancing, it shall necessitate government to construct more classes in schools and let the government give we the teachers away to atleast maintain the structure which are there, even the furniture, we need more latriines. Let the government at least extend the opening of schools after constructing more classes." Omoding added.
Francis Ewalu, the LC-3 chairperson Asamuk sub county in Amuria district says he is worried that if schools reopen soon, parents may not be able to return to schools since business earnings have been affected with COVID-19 lockdown.
"The numbers of people who are getting infected by COVID-19 is rising and let us give government room to construct more structures, buy these other testing equipment, protective gears as far as sanitizers are concerned such that by the time we resume schools we would be having all these things to protect us from contracting this disease," said Ewalu.
Florence Angero, a parent and a resident of Akisim cell in Soroti City says re-opening of schools will financially strain parents and school owners who have been out of business for close to six months.