How schools have planned to protect learners from Ebola

Students from Luzira Secondary School wash hands during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWa

What you need to know:

  • Many schools plan to use the Covid-19 preventive measures to fight Ebola.

Whereas many schools across the country await guidelines from the ministries of Education and Health on what they should do to protect learners from Ebola outbreak, some have started restricting visitors.
Schools are among the places that attract huge crowds, necessitating their heads to heighten vigilance to ensure safety of learners.

Some private schools running boarding sections had by yesterday moved to restrict entry of visitors into the school as well as stopping students from leaving school premises to avoid contact with the outside population.
The head mistress of Immaculate Hearts Girls school, Sr Gladys Kachope, yesterday said they had since sensitised their students and teachers about the outbreak and on how to observe personal hygiene.   “We have also instructed our doctor in the sick bay to be on the lookout in case we report any outbreak within the school,” she added.

 Government on Tuesday declared the outbreak of the Ebola Sudan variant in Uganda following a confirmed case in Mubende.
 According to the World Health Organisation, Ebola is a viral disease transmitted mainly through contact with fluids or blood of an infected person. 
Some school heads said they would use the same preventive measures they applied during Covid-19 to avert Ebola outbreak in schools, given the likeness of the two diseases.
The head teacher of Kololo Secondary School, Mr Edward Kanonya, said they would enforce hand washing among students using the infrastructure that was put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The good thing is that we have experience of Covid-19 and the spread of Ebola is similar to Covid-19. Based on the previous experience, we are ready to prevent the disease from our learners,” Mr Kanonya told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview.
 “We shall also enforce wearing of masks among the students and staff who had become complacent,” he added.
The associations of private and government schools across the country said they were in dilemma over what steps to take since the ministries of Education and Health had not issued them with guidelines to be followed in schools given their special characteristics.

According to the statistics by the Ministry of Education during Covid-19, there are more than 15 million learners in all the education institutions across the country. Some of these learners are in boarding while others in the day section, making it hard for schools to regulate contacts.
“We have not got directives from the ministry of Education on what to do. For now, we await safeguards schools should follow to prevent the outbreak and we shall pass it to our schools,” Mr Martin Okiria, the national chairperson of Secondary Schools’ Head Teachers’ Association, said on Wednesday.

The chairperson of the national private education institution, Mr Hasadu Kirabira, said they were sending a team from the association today to meet with Ministry of Health officials to formulate guidelines for schools.
He, however, said schools with boarding sections have previously not been affected, but they cannot take the latest outbreak lightly.
“Just like the Ministry of Education worked with schools to formulate guidelines for Covid-19, we are sending our technical team to the Ministry of Health to come up with ways in which schools can intervene in the fight against Ebola,” Mr Kirabira said.
The Ministry of Education spokesperson, Dr Denis Mugimba, yesterday said it was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health to come up with the guidelines.

Guidelines for schools
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Health, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, yesterday said the ministry is working on the guidelines for schools.
He said at the moment, schools can use the available messages the Ministry has passed out to sensitise the learners and teachers about the signs and prevention of Ebola.
“We always have continuity of learning during Ebola outbreaks amid vigilance and sensitisation of heads of school, teachers and learners which has started,” Mr Ainebyoona said.


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