The Ministry of Education will start inspection of schools across the country today to assess compliance with the required standard operating procedures (SOPs) ahead of the reopening on October 15.
During his address last month, President Museveni cleared schools and other education institutions to reopen for candidates and finalists, but with strict adherence to SOPs.
According to the circular from the Commissioner for Secondary Education at the Ministry of Education, Mr Kule Baritazale, which is addressed to all heads of institutions and schools countrywide, those who will not have in place the listed SOPs will not be allowed to reopen.
“As we plan to reopen schools for candidates, the ministry is mindful of the safety of the learners, staff and visitors to the institutions. The ministry through the Directorate of Education Standards has therefore organised to inspect the institutions before the learners of candidate classes report,” Mr Baritazale said.
“Institutions that will satisfy the basic requirements as indicated in the guidelines will be issued with compliance certificates and allowed to reopen. The details are indicated in the inspection guidelines and the inspection tool. We have decided to send you the guidelines and the tools so that you can make adequate preparations. Please be at your institutions to participate in this assessment,” he added.
He said the inspection will be carried out by officers from both the Ministry of Education and the Local Governments.
According to the requirements, before being given compliance certificates each school must have adequate furniture arranged for social distancing of at least two metres apart per learner and there should be evidence of good ventilation and lighting.
All schools should have isolation rooms, where learners suspected to have Covid-19 will be kept before being taken to hospital.
For boarding section, the school should have adequate number of beds for learners with one learner per bed and beds should be arranged two metres apart.
Schools must show evidence of training of staff and learners on Covid-19 and should have in place trained personnel to manage screening of learners and staff.
Schools are also required to have washing facilities at all strategic points with clean water source, soap and proper water disposal.
There should also be restricted access to and from school and schools are expected to have a fence or demarcated boundaries or barriers.
Schools should have calibrated temperature guns and with evidence of screening at the gate. They should also show evidence of restricted access from visitors.
There should be availability of disinfectants such as jik, vim and chlorine for the boarding section.
Schools should also have adequate facilities for teachers’ workplace such as staff rooms and offices.
Boarding schools should have a sick bay with evidence of qualified health workers in place recruited or hired on part time.
Schools must also have adequate toilets or latrines for learners, separate for girls and boys at the ratio of 56:1 and staff. Schools must also possess disinfectants and spraying facilities and equipment in place.
All schools are expected to have in place all the listed requirements before they are cleared to reopen.
Whereas heads of private schools said they have already put in place the required SOPs needed for reopening, it is not the case with government schools which are carrying out the Universal Primary and Secondary Education.
Mr Filbert Baguma, the secretary general of Uganda National Teachers Union, said they would be set only if the government had released the capitation grant for government-funded schools.
He said the money for the second term that would have been used to put in place the SOPs was recalled by the Ministry of Finance.
“What are they going to inspect? They have not sent the money yet and it’s been close to six months since the schools were closed. They should have first released the money, before inspecting. They are going there but they know the answer. It is obvious that they will find nothing there unless they are going to tell me that government schools are not going to reopen,” Mr Baguma said.
“Some schools that used second term capitation grant to put in place SOPs are being put on pressure to return the money which was spent long ago. A head teacher in Kapchorwa has not paid his teachers because of the capitation grant money,” he added.