Uganda reopens schools, ending world’s longest COVID-19 shutdown

This Monday the schools of Uganda reopened to students ending the longest school closure in the world caused by the pandemic of COVID-19.

The reopening caused traffic congestion in some areas of the capital, Kampala, and students could be seen carrying their mattresses on the streets, a return-to-boarding phenomenon that had not been witnessed for nearly two years.

Schools in Uganda have been fully or partially closed for more than 83 weeks, the longest interruption in the world, according to figures from the Ugandan cultural agency. UN. The closure affected more than 10 million students.

The eastern country of Africa out of 44 million people closed their schools for the first time in March 2020, shortly after the first coronavirus case was confirmed on the African continent.

Some classes were reopened to students in February 2021, but a full lockdown was again imposed in June as the country faced its first major increase.

For many parents, the reopening was long overdue.

“Inevitably, we have to open schools,” said Felix Okot, father of a 6-year-old kindergarten boy. “The future of our children, the future of our nation, is at stake.”

Thousands of Ugandan children finally returned to classrooms following the COVID-19 lockdown.

The country’s schools cannot “wait forever” for the end of the pandemic, he warned.

The prolonged closure of schools proved controversial in a country where many ignored measures aimed at halting the spread of the virus.

Skepticism about vaccines, even among healthcare workers, remains a problem, with growing reports of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards being sold in central Kampala.

It is believed that many students who returned to school did not receive help during the closure. Most public schools, serving the vast majority of children in Uganda, were unable to offer virtual education.

The Associated Press reported in November on students in a remote Ugandan town where weeds grew in classrooms and some students worked in a swamp as gold miners.

Some critics pointed out that the president’s government Yoweri Museveni, an authoritarian who has been in power for 36 years and whose wife is the Minister of Education, did little to support learning at home.

Museveni justified the closure by insisting that the infected students were a danger to their parents and others.

“There are many things that cannot be predicted at the moment. Student participation is unpredictable, teacher participation is unpredictable, “said Fagil Mandy, a former government inspector of schools who now works as an independent consultant.

“I am more concerned that many children do not return to school for various reasons, including school fees.”

Mandy also noted her concern that a virus outbreak is “spreading very quickly” in crowded schools, urging that school administrators keep a close eye on it.

Welcoming the reopening of Ugandan schools, Save the Children warned that “learning loss can lead to high dropout rates in the coming weeks without urgent action,” including what it described as recovery clubs.

The aid group warned in a statement Monday about a wave of dropouts “because returning students who have fallen behind in their learning fear they will have no chance of catching up.”

Will schools in Uganda stay open?

It remains to be seen how long the schools will remain open. Uganda, with an alarming increase in virus cases in recent days.

In the last week, health authorities reported a daily positivity rate of more than 10%, from practically zero in December. Museveni has warned of a possible new lockdown if intensive care units reach 50% occupancy.

Hoping for a smooth return to school, authorities waived the testing requirements COVID-19 for the students. An abbreviated curriculum was also approved under an agreement to automatically promote all students to the next class.

Uganda has received foreign support for the reopening of schools.

The agency of the UN for children and the governments of the United Kingdom and Ireland announced financial support focused on virus surveillance and mental health of students and teachers in 40,000 schools.

They said their support was key to keeping Uganda’s school system open.

In AmericanPost.News we will follow the latest news from Uganda like the police killed five involved with suicide bombings in their capital.

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