KAMPALA – Schools in Uganda on Monday fully reopened for physical classes after COVID-19 forced the government to close learning institutions in March 2020.

According to the Ministry of Education and Sports, pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools have been reopened and school administrators have been urged to ensure that COVID-19 prevention measures are followed all the time.The ministry said schools are supposed to have a system of monitoring and isolating symptomatic cases and reporting to the nearest health facility.

If several COVID-19 cases are found in the school, the whole school is required to be tested.At Kampala Parents School, in the capital of Kampala, the school administrators were strict on following COVID-19 prevention procedures as parents brought in their children.

“All our children have masks, including teachers. We have a sanitizer booth at the entrance of the school so that whoever comes in passes through that booth,” Daphine Kato, the principal of Kampala Parents School, told Xinhua in an interview.She said pupils were returning in phases to avoid crowding during the registration process.Dennis Oryem, a parent at the school, was grateful to the government for reopening the schools.”I appeal to parents to work with school management to ensure everyone observes SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) as a measure of averting the pandemic,” Oryem said.

Patrick Friday, a teacher at Galihuma Primary School in the western district of Kyenjojo, told Xinhua by telephone that the turnout at the school on the first day has been low.He said out of the 98 pupils expected in Primary Seven class, 65 learners reported.”The turnout in lower classes is below average. I think parents are still reluctant to send pupils back to school,” Friday said, adding that whereas pupils in upper classes were all wearing masks, others in the lower classes were struggling to keep them on.

After the March 2020 closure of learning institutions, the government partially reopened schools and universities to allow final year candidates to sit their final year examinations. In June 2021, all schools and universities were closed as the country faced the second wave of the pandemic.

In August last year medical schools were reopened as a measure to boost the country’s number of health personnel involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.Institutions of higher learning reopened in November last year.

As schools reopen, apart from the COVID-19 prevention measures, Uganda is putting emphasis on vaccinating about 22 million people or half the country’s population.The Ministry of Health figures show that as of Jan. 7, about 12 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered since the vaccination exercise started in March last year.

Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health, last week warned that the country is currently facing a surge of COVID-19 cases, urging the public to take extra care and avoid being complacent.The country has so far registered 153,762 COVID-19 cases, with 98,693 recoveries and 3,339 deaths. – Xinhua