COVID-19: Exit plan for SHS students after WASSCE being developed – GES

The Ghana Education Service (GES) says it has in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service began working on a strategic plan on how Senior High School (SHS) students will be made to go back home after the successful completion of the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the measures to be adopted is a possible mandatory quarantine of the students before they are finally allowed to integrate with the larger community.

Director-General of the GES, Prof. Kwasi Owusu-Amankwa who gave the hint, however, did not mention mass testing as one of the steps to be taken.

He indicated that the predetermined criteria will be spelt out to ensure the necessary safety precautions to avert any further spread of the virus once the students return home.

“When the students are done with the WASSCE, they will definitely go home. The conversation is that the Ghana Health Service will put in whatever contingency measure in place before they go home. They [Ghana Health Service] will tell us the details but maybe when they [students] are going home, some arrangements will be made for them to quarantine. I had a conversation with the Ghana Health Service Director-General so obviously something will be done”, he told Umaru Sanda Amadu on Face to Face on Citi TV.

Parents are glad about our COVID-19 safety measures

Contrary to the overwhelming concerns raised by anxious parents over the poor handling of COVID-19 cases and their accompanying measures in schools across the country, management of the Ghana Education Service (GES) says its findings rather show parents are pleased with the instituted protocols thus far.

Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa on Face to Face disclosed that “so far the parents who have called me and my other officials, are so glad about the measures we have put in place and how we are handling the issues”.

Justifying this position albeit the large number of parents who have besieged schools with recorded cases of  COVID-19 to demand the release of their children, Prof. Amankwa said it was because “the media created panic which for me was needless”.

The GES boss dismissed calls for students to be allowed to return home insisting “that they will come back with the infections they have collected in the schools into the larger society for the bigger society to be infected. Is that what we want?”

“I don’t think this is what the conversations should be. The conversations should rather be on what measures have been put in place for issues like safety. The health people tell us that we will be better off keeping them in there and treating them,” Prof. Amankwah stressed.

Since the reopening of schools for final year students to enable them to partake in their exit examinations, parents, educational stakeholders, the Minority in Parliament, the opposition National Democratic  Congress (NDC) and the National Council for Parent Teacher Association (PTA) have called for the closure of the schools given the increase in the number of cases being recorded in educational institutions.

The NDC, for instance, said a reversal of the reopening of schools would be the only way to express the government’s commitment of not endangering the lives of students and staff as promised.

Some have also called for the mass testing of students as an additional infection management protocol.

Although some guidelines have been outlined to stem the spread, these groups say they are not completely enthused about existing situations in the schools hence, students should be allowed to return home in a bid to safeguard them against the virus.

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