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Government to test students, teachers with COVID-19 signs

By Henry Sekanjako and Moses Mulondo

Added 8th October 2020 11:34 AM

The House demanded that the Government gazettes a statutory instrument of power regarding the reopening of schools to avoid legal battles.

Government to test students, teachers with COVID-19 signs

Kaducu (centre) during the plenary on Tuesday. Photo by Miriam Namutebi

The House demanded that the Government gazettes a statutory instrument of power regarding the reopening of schools to avoid legal battles.

COVID-19|EDUCATION|TEACHERS|STUDENTS 

The health ministry has said only learners and teachers with COVID-19 symptoms will be subjected to the COVID-19 tests as schools reopen for finalists next week.

"The first stage will be screening of these students. If they have symptoms, they will be subjected for the COVID-19 test," Joyce Moriku Kaducu, the state minister of health (primary healthcare), said.

She said testing of learners and students for COVID-19, will not be a prerequisite as schools reopen.

Kaducu made the remarks yesterday during the plenary where MPs raised the issue of testing of learners and teachers as a matter of national importance before schools can reopen.

Raising the matter, Busia Municipality MP Geoffrey Macho told Parliament that countries such as Kenya have subjected teachers and learners to COVID-19 tests before the reopening of schools. He said this should be done by Uganda.

"The Kenyan government has decided that all students will be tested 14 days before they resume school. This is because they are not sure of their COVID-19 status and do not want to put the lives of students in danger. After that, they will test all teachers then schools will reopen," he said.

He said it is not enough to implement standard operating procedures (SOPs) without testing the learners and the teachers. "How do we prove that the SOPs can work without testing our children in the country which is at phase four of the pandemic?" Macho asked.

The House, chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, also demanded that the Government gazettes a statutory instrument of power regarding the reopening of schools to avoid legal battles.

Legal instrument

Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality) said currently, there is no legal instrument to guide the reopening of schools, which he said can be used against the Government in courts of law. "We are seeing the reopening of the airport and schools, but there are no statutory instruments to authenticate the reopening," he said.

"Last time, I was in court in Nakaseke, representing MP Paul Luttamaguzi who was arrested and imprisoned for violating SOPs. I asked the state attorney where it is provided for under the statutory instrument; nowhere," he said.

Supporting Basalirwa's submission, Kadaga also appealed to the Government to gazette the statutory instruments saying: "Without proper instruments, people will interpret it in their own way."

In response, the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, told the MPs that the Government had already gazetted that statutory instrument.

Compliance certificate

The MPs also expressed concern that most of the schools across the country have been denied certificates of compliance they need before being allowed to reopen.

The legislators appealed to the Government to assist the schools, especially those in rural areas, who do not have money to buy requirements such as sanitisers.

"Schools will be reopening on Thursday next week, but most of the schools have been denied certificates of compliance. This is because they do not meet the SOPs. We are demanding for a clear explanation on how these schools are going to be helped to operate," MP Henry Kibalya (Bugabula South) said.

On Monday, the Government embarked on a nationwide inspection of schools to ensure that they meet all the required SOPs such as use of temperature guns and sanitisers before they can be allowed to reopen.

The Government, through the education ministry, noted that only schools that meet the requirements will be issued with a certificate of compliance and be allowed to reopen.


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