Editorial : Is it safe for SHS 3 students to go back home?
Over fifty students of Accra Girls Senior High School, and many others from some of the Senior High schools in the country, have reportedly contracted the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. As a result of this, parents besieged Accra Girls Senior School in particular to demand the release of their wards.
Apart from these agitated parents, some groups and individuals are also calling on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to close down schools and allow the students to go home to avoid the spread of the virus among the larger student population.
The Chronicle does not blame the conduct of parents who want GES to release their children to them. Since Covid-19 is a killer disease, and in fact killing people, every responsible parent will be alarmed if it is reported that a school his or her award attends has started reporting COVID-19 cases.
Nevertheless, we think the pressure groups, which are also calling for the closure of schools, are blowing the situation out of proportion, thus fuelling the fear of students contracting the disease and the resultant demands from parents for their release. One cannot talk about education without the mentioning of examinations – which is the only way teachers can test their students to ascertain whether they have understood what they have been taught or not.
And with the final Senior High School certificate examination just around the corner, the government was definitely caught in between the devil and deep blue sea. Allowing the students to stay at home would have ensured their safety, but that decision would have also put their futures in serious danger if they fail to pass well and get admissions to the universities. Looking at the two scenarios, the government decided to go for the former after it put all the necessary measures in place to ensure the safety of the children.
But, if upon all the measures that have been put in place the students are still contracting the disease on campus, then the best thing to do is to dialogue and come out with alternative suggestions that would help to deal with the situation, and not the call or the pressure being put on the GES to close down the schools and allow the students to go home.
Already there is a school of thought that the students might have brought the disease from their various homes, because they had been camped on campus for not more than three weeks.
But that is not the issue we are looking at the moment – our concern is whether these students are not going to infect their parents and siblings if the GES yields to public demand to allow them to go home. In our view, the best option now is to allow the students to stay on campus and learn, but those who have contracted the disease among them should be isolated.
Already, it is the government that is footing the bills for people who are staying in isolation centres that have been approved by the state. The reasonability of care will, therefore, lie on the government if the students are detained on campus.
The Chronicle is, however, worried over allegations being made by parents that the places designated as isolation centres for the students have no mosquito nets, and that the students sleep in open places.
If this is really true, then the government must move quickly to address the situation. Teachers and students who are still on campus must be well protected to ensure that the examination candidates study in congenial atmospheres and successfully pass their final examinations.