There is no whit of doubt whatsoever that the educational cosmos the world over has plunged into an abyss of uncertainty given the radical absence of preemptive and pandemic control mechanisms on the ground to neutralize and emasculate the COVID19 hector (bully). The extent to which the bully (Covid19) has terrorized global economies and shoveled virtually every aspect of human existence into the oven of stagnation provokes a seamless set of posers.
It looks like it will be a long ‘cold’ winter for the educational sector after schools closed earlier than scheduled due to the Covid 19 pandemic threat that is threatening to tear the world into tatters. Books for lower grades, secondary and tertiary level are not spared in the ‘tearing’ spree and it is unlikely that schools will be opened anytime soon as the winter season (fertile for the virus incubation) beckons. With no clear roadmap and measures for the long road ahead, it is ideal that such moves are made to guide all stakeholders accordingly, in a season punctuated by uncertainty.
The country can ride on the experiences of other nations. Zeroing into south Africa which has spelt out a clear roadmap for opening of institutions of learning, the case in point is their basic education ministry which has tentatively put 1 June as the opening date with fundamentals and modalities that have been put in place being:
1. Massive screening of teachers, students and ancillary staff
This will assist in setting the pace and tone for the schools opening and ought be done two weeks before opening so that the safety of learners and staff is ensured. This will work well especially for boarders, who will effectively be ‘in isolation’ where they will be domiciled.
2. Workshopping and training of teachers 2 weeks before opening
This will make sure that by opening day teachers are aware of their environment including e social distancing as it will be business unusual. With the help of health practitioners, tutors will be armed with awareness skills.
3. Massive spraying of schools before opening
Health personnel from nearby health facilities can be assigned this task as most have already been trained on spraying and fumigation of facilities.
4. Provision of PPES for both teachers and learners
Personal Protective Clothing is a must for both learners and teachers/lecturers so that their safety is guaranteed and all plays ball with caution to guarantee safety.
Schools that offer garment construction as a subject should be capacitated urgently to help in the manufacturing of masks, that way schools will also realise some revenue.
5. Feeding Schemes
This might sound weird but the trick is surely on ensuring a healthy nation. Before, during and after schools opening it is paramount to set the pace on having nationwide food parceling focusing on immune system boosting. Foods rich in Vitamin C ought to be the centre of the pivot.
6. Staggered opening of schools
Priority should be given to exam classes set to be writing final year examinations including the Grade 7s, Form 4, Form 6 as well as various tertiary level classes. These can open first followed by other classes when the fog is clear.
The measures are not exclusive, offering much flexibility to have more or less effective measures to fight the scourge and ensure that 2020 is not an educational ‘gap year.