Ghana’s teachers’ unions call for school closures over COVID-19 concerns

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A primary school teacher shows a water tank which used to gather the rainwater from rooftops in Guayotse Village, Eastern Region, Ghana. Xinhua
A primary school teacher shows a water tank to her pupils in Guayotse Village, Eastern Region, Ghana. Teachers in the region are calling on the government to close schools amid the spread of COVID-19. (Image via Xinhua)

Pre-tertiary teacher unions in Ghana are calling on the government to shut down schools amid COVID-19 spread in the institutions a few weeks after reopening.

According to the teacher unions, measures put in place by authorities here to ensure the safety of both staff and students had not been implemented to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

A joint statement by the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Teachers and Educational Workers Union (TEWU) and the Coalition of Concerned Teachers (CCT) Thursday said the situation could be dire if schools were not closed down immediately.

“Our children are our future and we must protect them. For how long can we stand and look while our children are consigned to death? In the light of this, we, the pre-tertiary teacher unions -GNAT, NAGRAT, TEWU, and CCT have no option than to ask that the schools be closed down,” the statement said.

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the closure of schools on March 16 due to the COVID-19 spread in the country and imposed a lockdown on four major areas.

Subsequently, after putting in place a number of measures including regular surveillance, enhanced contact tracing, testing, and treatment, the government eased some of the earlier restrictions.

Final year tertiary institutions students returned to school on June 15 while Senior High and Junior High Schools (JHSs) reopened on June 22 and 29 respectively.

However, a little over 100 students in 14 SHS across the country have been confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 four weeks after reopening.

This has generated concerns from several quarters as the Minority in Ghana’s Parliament, the National Parent Teacher Association, as well as some civil society groups, had earlier on called on the government to shut down schools.

But the government says the few COVID-19 confirmed cases recorded in the 14 schools out of over 700 secondary schools was not enough justification for school closure.

The government has subsequently set up a five-member body to monitor and ensure the effective implementation of the laid-down protocols to ensure the safety for all in the country’s educational institutions.

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