Upon reporting back, some schools organised counselling sessions for the students that have been out of the school environment for the last seven months.
EDUCATION HEALTH VIRUS
KAMPALA - The excitement was palpable. They laughed and talked like long lost friends. But the conversations were not characterised by the traditional hugs and handshakes. The only handshake was with a handwashing facility strategically placed at the entrance of the school gate.
This was the scene at Kololo Senior Secondary School as schools reopened for finalists under strict COVID-19 guidelines on Thursday.
At City High Secondary School in Kampala, by 9:30 am, the Senior Four class was full to capacity but the students sat two metres away from each other covering their faces with masks. With a temperature gun in hand, the class teacher took the students through a counselling session on dos and don'ts under the new normal at the school.
This was the general picture around Kampala as schools re-opened
on Thursday. Most of the schools New Vision visited registered a reasonable number of students that reported for school on the first day.
Kampala Parents School is one of the schools New Vision visited.
According to Daphne Kato, the principal of Kampala Parents, the students were divided into groups of 15 learners per group, per classroom, as a measure to ensure social distancing.
"The attendance was very good, most of the students turned up and each class had not less than 13 or 14 students," Kato said.
The situation was not any different at City High School in Kololo; the school registered an impressive turnout.
"We are expecting 125 Senior Four candidates and 76 Senior Six candidates. So far, we have received 40 candidates in Senior Four and 30 candidates in Senior Six, being a first day and in a middle of the week, most students are reporting back on Monday," Thomas Seruwagi, the headteacher, told New Vision.
Lubiri High School also registered a fair number of students reporting back to school. According to Ritah Namata, the headteacher, out of the 230 Senior Four candidates, 100 students turned up for classes. She added that out of the 110 candidates for Senior Six, the school was able to receive 60 students on the first day.
How schools faired on SOPs
In preparation for the re-opening of schools, the education ministry issued tough measures for schools before issuance of a certificate of compliance. By press time, many schools across the country were yet to be cleared to open.
New Vision visited a cross-section of schools to assess the level of adherence to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the first day of reopening.
Nakasero Primary School
At Nakasero Primary School in Kampala, the school management has 15 classrooms with 15 desks per classroom for the candidates. The students sit two per desk, to observe social distancing. Before the candidates could access the school premises, each was asked to wear a face shield fully customised and labelled with their names.
Those who had not booked the face shields earlier were asked to pay for them at the entrance before they could be let in to attend classes.
At the main entrance, and other entrances within the school premises, students' temperature was taken and also given water to wash their hands or sanitise.
To trace their contacts in case of a positive case, Charles Walusimbi, the headteacher, said the school had introduced a register for students to register the means of transport they use on a daily basis to school, including the contacts for their parents or guardians.
Buganda Road Primary School
The school has demarcated space with designed standing space of between two to four metres for each student during the school assembly.
The school has also reserved several classrooms for candidates, with each classroom allowing a maximum of only 24 students.
To avoid sharing seats, the school has designated permanent seats with names for each candidate, to avoid switching of seats. At the school, students were given masks and water for washing hands.
The school has also established an isolation centre in case of a COVID 19 case.
According to David Ssengendo, the headteacher of Buganda Road Primary School, management has also asked parents to consider buying sanitisers for their children as they report to school.
The school has also embarked on a campaign to sensitise students about COVID-19, saying some of them have a mentality that it does not exist.
Kampala Parents School
Just like other schools, at Kampala Parents School, all pupils were found wearing masks in classes, including their teachers. At the main entrance, there were many posters advising students to wash their hands and even wear face masks.
Parents and pupils were seen washing their hands at the entrance. They were also advised to walk through a disinfection tunnel before they were allowed to register as they reported back to school.
There was high observation of SOPs by both parents and students. In classes, pupils sat meters away from each other. Each candidate class was allowed to accommodate only 10 to 15 pupils as recommended by the ministry of health.
St Peters Primary School, Nsambya
On arrival, all the students were subjected to temperature measurements and were also asked to wear their face masks at all times.
To observe social distance, the school has provided each student a desk to sit on. In case of a COVID-19 case, the school has also turned one of the dormitories into an isolation centre.