A Deputy Minister for Health, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye believes closing down schools over cases of COVID-19 recorded in some second cycle institutions is not advisable.
He made the remark on Eyewitness News following calls from the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations of Ghana for government to allow the Senior High School students to go home.
The association in a statement on Monday, July 13, 2020, called for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) to be postponed following the outbreak of COVID-19 in schools.
According to the association, the call is “to avert further spread of the coronavirus among our children and staff.”
The association also said, “not enough health personnel are either stationed in or attached to many of the schools for routine surveillance due to the pandemic. More worrying is the fact that despite good counsel and encouragement, most parents insist their children should be brought home.”
But Dr Okoe Boye responding to the demands on Eyewitness News said everyone is exposed to the virus and people can only protect themselves from contracting the disease by adhering to the laid down preventive protocols.
“I have to check with the Ghana Education Service on their protocols and on their statutes on letting students go home but the advice I can give as a public health person is that when you pick your child from school and say you are taking your child home, remember the virus is at home, the virus is at the workplace and the virus is on the street. The best bet is to take care of yourself because your child might actually be exposed more.”
“Imagine if you have a parent who is a taxi driver who comes across 200 people before he goes home or imagine a parent who sells at Makola or myself who moves from one hospital to the other, the virus is around. We all can expose our kids. That’s why all of us must take care of ourselves so we don’t carry the virus home,” he said.
NDC COVID-19 team proposes mass testing of students, closure of schools
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) had earlier renewed its calls for the closure of schools across the country as the cases of COVID-19 being recorded within the school environment continue to rise.
A statement from the party’s COVID-19 Technical Team on Monday, July 13, 2020, said a reversal of the reopening of schools is the only indicator to express the government’s commitment of not endangering the lives of students and staff as promised.
“The lives of Ghanaian students, teachers, and non-teaching staff should be valued equally and the government must take immediate steps to reverse its decision and to begin the process of returning students to their homes. This will necessarily include mass testing of students to ascertain their COVID-19 status before they are released to their parents to minimize the risk of exporting cases from campuses to communities.”
55 students, staff test positive for COVID-19 at Accra Girls SHS
In a related development, 55 people including students and staff at the Accra Girls’ Senior High School have tested positive for COVID-19.
This was disclosed by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) after it commenced a testing exercise at the school.
According to a joint statement by the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service (GES), 55 people tested positive out of 314 total tests done.
“As at 13th July, 2020, a total of 314 persons (student and staff) from the School have been tested. Out of these, 55 have been confirmed positive for COVID-19 while 259 persons tested negative,” the statement said.
The statement further indicated that all those who have tested positive have been sent to treatment centres.
The school confirmed six positive cases amongst students last week and it was later discovered that a teacher and his spouse had also tested positive for the disease.
This sparked protest among the student populace who insisted on going home.