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COVID-19 testing not mandatory for returning learners — GES Director-General

BY: Severious Kale-Dery
Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Prof. Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa

The government has cautioned private schools against mandatory COVID-19 testing of learners as a pre-condition for admitting them back to school.

The Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, said it was only the Ministry of Health and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) that had the mandate to organise any such test.

He said until that directive was given, testing for COVID-19 should not be mandatory for the admission or reopening of school for any category of learners.

There is information that some private schools plan to organise a mass COVID-19 testing for their learners before accepting them back to school.

Re-opening arrangements

At a press briefing in Accra yesterday to throw more light on the reopening of schools as directed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo last Sunday, Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said the information that some private schools were planning to organise COVID-19 testing as a pre-requisite for the reopening of schools and the admission of new students was not sanctioned.

He stressed that no school had that permission, adding that if the GHS deemed it necessary, it would organise such testing.

The President announced that all basic schools from kindergarten (KG) to junior high schools (JHS) would reopen on January 18 this year, after 10 months’ closure as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

All senior high schools (SHS) would, however, reopen on January 15 this year, while tertiary institutions would be reopening on January 9 this year.

Reopening

Speaking on preparation for the reopening, he said from now, all arrangements would be put in place to ensure that no learner’s life was compromised.

He said all schools would be fumigated and disinfected early enough before the reopening, adding that the exercise would cover both public and private schools.

Prof. Opoku-Amankwa said all schools would be provided with Veronica buckets, soaps, hand sanitisers and paper tissues, as well as washable and reusable facemasks for all students and staff.

Closure of schools

On March 15, 2020, the President, ordered the closure of all schools in the country as a result of the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The initial directive allowed for final year students of both JHS and SHS to remain in school to continue with their examinations.

However, when the West African Examination Council (WAEC) suspended the conduct of exams, the final year students were also directed to go home.

Gradual reopening

However, on June 15, 2020, President Akufo-Addo gave the greenlight for the gradual reopening of schools for final year students to return to face-to-face instructions, and to sit for their terminal examinations while observing health protocols.

On October 5, 2020, all JHS Two and SHS Two students returned to school to complete the 2019/2020 academic year.

It was further directed that all KG, primary, JHS One and SHS One students would return to school in January 2021 to begin the next academic year.