Callousness or safety first? KNUST SHS student left to die over fear of Covid-19 …GES interdicts headmistress, begins probe
The Ghana Education Service (GES) has directed the headmistress of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Senior High School, Felicia Asamoah Dankwa, to step aside as it investigates the circumstances that led to the death of a student on campus on Tuesday.
Armed police were brought in on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 to restore order, after students of the School went on a demonstration over the death of one of their colleagues on campus.
The students accused the school authorities of failing to attend to the deceased boy, who complained of stomach upset, leading to his death.
Videos that have gone viral of the incident show the deceased groaning in pain and being supported by some of his colleagues. According to report, the student died later at a health facility.
News of the death of the Final Year Business student drove his colleague crackers, who started pelting stones, which broke the windscreen of a saloon car the headmistress had driven to school.
According to the students, they were demonstrating because their mate was sick and was left unattended to, because the school authorities feared he was suffering from Covid-19.
According to them, the deceased student started complaining of stomach ache around mid-day and started vomiting at 3pm, when he did not receive any attention.
“Then we rushed him to the classroom block but it seemed the teachers were only waiting for his parents to come and take him to the hospital, and for that matter, he was left unattended to, for close to three hours, before his dad came to pick him up,” one of students told The Chronicle.
According to the students, if the school authorities had acted without delay, the boy’s life would have been saved.
Madam Felicia Asamoah Dankwah, Headmistress of the School explained that, the student was a day student and was admitted as a boarder to enable him write his final examination.
Whilst on campus, he complained about being sick around 3:00pm on Monday. According to her, the authorities called the mother to come and pick him from the school to access health care. However, his father arrived in the school late around 9:00pm.
She disclosed that, nobody reported to them what happened to the student at home, adding that, the student is an ulcer patient and he did not go for lunch on that fateful day.
The Headmistress believes this might have accounted for the student’s tragic situation.
Meanwhile, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reports that In spite of the outbreak of cases of COVID-19 in some Senior High Schools (SHSs) in the country, government has given the assurance that the school campuses will remain the safest place for the students.
Dr Yaw Adu-Twum, a Deputy Minister of Education in-charge of Basic and Secondary Education, said everything that was needed to be done, was done to ensure the safety of students on campuses and that the Government’s strategies and implementation plan to contain the COVID-19 pandemic were all on track.
“We are going to do all that we can to ensure that the students are safe where they are now,” Dr Adu-Twum stated in Accra, at the meet the press series organised by the Ministry of Information to give an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Any subsequent decision will be taken at the highest level of Government and with the advice of our distinguished health professionals of the Ghana Health Service (GHS).
Dr Adu-Twum recounted that in March of this year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the President directed that all schools should be closed down.
He said in line with another Presidential Directive, final year students in SHSs and final year students in Junior High Schools (JHS), final year students at the Universities were directed to resume school to enable them prepare for their exit exams.
The resumption began with the tertiary education institutions on June 15, followed by SHSs on June 22 and then finally JHSs on June 29.
He said before the students went back to school, various protocol arrangements were put in place by the Government as part of measures to contain the spread of the disease.
He said the various logistics were provided by the Government; such as facemasks, veronica buckets and sanitisers, and that everything that needed to be provided was given in the various schools for their safety.
He said on June 29, a case was reported to the health authorities of a student who was unwell at Accra Girls SHS.
“Of course, they quickly identified the symptoms of Covid-19, the student was immediately isolated, subsequently other students who were having similar symptoms were all quickly quarantined.”
He said the test result showed that six students and a teacher and his wife had tested positive to COVID-19.
Dr Adu-Twum said they were immediately isolated and taken care of and the parents of the students were quickly informed to ensure that they could bring down the anxiety.
He said they were receiving the best of medical care to ensure their speedy recovery. “I can understand a parent getting a call from school saying that your child is not well and it is Covid-19. The frustration will be to the highest level.
“And I can understand why other parents also run to the school and say I want to take my child away. But taking your child away at this point is not a good option,” he said.
The Deputy Minister said the school (Accra Girls SHS) had isolated 648 contacts, who were being screened by the GHS for COVID-19.
He noted that the GHS was on top of the medical side of things, whilst the Ghana Education Service (GES) was also looking at the education side of things.
“We understand that in the midst of all the anxiety, it is difficult for students to even learn. But Counselors are on site now, looking at ways that they can help the students to recompose themselves and begin to take a look at the preparation that is ahead of them,” he said.
“At this point what we want parents to understand is that everything possible is being done to make sure that the safety of the children is protected and that the children are not endangered.”
Accra Girls SHS has 701 final year students and 469 second year gold track students.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director General, GHS, who agreed with what the Deputy Minister stated in their efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, also urged the public to keep observing all the protocols against the spread of the disease.
He said aside the Accra Girls SHS, three cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Wesley Grammar SHS, two cases in Odorgonno SHS, some suspected cases in Ada SHS, one case at Prang SHS, two cases in Mfantsipim, one in Mankesim; which were all at the early stages of their reopening and that he was sure they had all been contained.
He said some COVID-19 cases were also recorded in some nursing training institutions such as two cases in the Central, one in a midwifery training school in the Volta Region and one in the Upper West Region.