All teachers to be tested for Covid before schools reopen

A health worker takes a sample for Covid-19 testing in Kampala on May 1.Government is proposing to test all teachers for Covid-19 ahead of school reopening. PHOTO/FILE

The government is proposing to test all teachers for Covid-19 ahead of school reopening.

Sources close to the National Covid-19 Taskforce, who requested for anonymity, told Daily Monitor yesterday that their proposal is to see all teachers tested before they report.

However, the Ministry of Education permanent secretary, Mr Alex Kakooza, said while the proposal is ideal, it is not achievable.

“What would have been preferable is to test everyone. But the way we are at the moment as a country, we don’t have the capacity. It will be very expensive. Wherever there will be absolute need, we shall take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our children, including testing those involved,” Mr Kakooza said.

President Museveni, while updating the nation on Covid-19 on Sunday, reopened schools to final year students and places of worship but limited them to 70 worshippers. He also allowed outdoor sports activities as long as the players are quarantined in one area and tested after every two weeks for their Covid-19 status.

Key concerns
Now stakeholders are questioning why schools are being  reopened yet there is no clear guidance on how the learners and their teachers will be handled in case of a positive coronavirus case.

“What exception are schools from sports activities, which President Museveni opened but ordered players should be tested every after 14 days?” a source on the national taskforce asked.

The government has previously asked the public to start paying for their Covid-19 tests unless they have been exposed. With submissions that the country is now at community transmission stage, making it difficult to trace the contacts, it will not be easy to tell which child has come with the virus  when they report to school unless there is prior testing.

The concerns were also raised in Parliament yesterday, with MPs demanding that government should guarantee that children will not contract Covid-19 when they report. They also asked who will meet the costs for testing, with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga saying she had received several complaints from the public about the high Covid-19 tests of Shs250,000.

Mr Hassadu Kirabira, the Kampala representative of the National Private Educational Institutions Association (NPEIA), yesterday admitted that they had received information to test teachers but wondered how the cost will be met, especially that they have been in lockdown without a salary.

“I have heard about the issue of testing teachers. But is it possible? How can a teacher pay Shs250,000 for testing?” Mr Kirabira asked.