President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has announced fresh restrictions as part of measures to control the COVID-19 transmissions in the country in face of the second wave of the pandemic.
Among the fresh restrictions, the president has directed the closure of all educational institutions across the country for 42 days effective 8; 00 a.m. on June 7, 2021. Ordering that all school ongoing children should return to their effective homes in space of three days.
Prior to the announcement, there have been signs of closure of school since Friday with the ministry of education issuing a circular halting schools from receiving or sending learners at home. Unfortunately, there are some parents and schools that refused to follow the issued guideline as they normally do.
While addressing the nation on Sunday evening, the president noted that there have been increased clusters of COVID-19 infections in schools of late. On top of the ever-increasing cases, he observed that some schools were concealing cases fearing that their schools could be closed.
Currently, there are 948 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in over 43 schools and institutions of higher learning scattered in 22 districts across the country with the highest numbers of infections reported in Kampala, Oyam, Wakiso, and Masaka districts.
Before the presidential address, some educational institutions had already suspended physical learning activities to control the surging number of cases in their communities. Such schools include; Green Hill Academy Secondary School, Kyambogo University and Cavendish University.
This week, schools have been preparing to receive the last group of learners under the staggering learning system which was adopted for the academic year 2019/2020. In this arrangement, primary schools were expecting to receive P1, P2, P3, and P6 pupils while secondary schools were bound to receive S3 and S5 students.
The president’s announcement on schools means that lower primary learners might not go back to school for this academic year. The days of closure cover the eight weeks in which they were supposed to be in school to fast-track their respective class syllabi before being promoted to the next class in August when the new academic year begins.
Still, semi candidates will study the scheduled special term which had been arranged to help them cover more content that was lost. In end, the closure will father affect the already set academic dates up to 2024.
Meanwhile, the president says that if schools are reopened after the said period, all teachers will be requested to undergo COVID-19 vaccination, and those who will have shunned the jab would not be allowed anywhere near the learner.
Uganda first announced the closure of schools because to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020 sending 15 million children on unprecedented holidays. Following the closure of schools, the ministry of education came up with a response plan proposing that lessons be delivered through print and self-study home packages, recorded lessons, and live presentations on radio, television lessons, and online uploads.
However, even with the plan in place, many learners remained stranded in homes across the country with no access to study materials yet many of the families do not own television and radios to tap into the lessons that were being broadcasted.
To ensure that all learners benefit from the programme, the government promised to procure radios for all learners and television for each village. However, this idea remained in limbo as members of parliament blocked the process.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has also suspended inter-district for all private and public transport means in a bid to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) with reports showing an increase in a surge of cases and community infections.
Although inter-district travel has been banned for 42 days, the president says this measure will be effected starting on June 10, 2021, with a window of three days left to enable school children to return home given the fact that schools have also been closed for the same period.
Selected categories of vehicles have been waived from the inter-district travel restriction including; cargo vehicles (with not more than two people-driver and one turn boy), registered tourists’ vehicles, essential and emergency vehicles. However, the president says this excludes districts of Wakiso, Mukono, and Kampala.
However, public transport within the same district is not banned but vehicle operators have been asked to observe the set SOPs for transport which include; ensuring that all passages have masks, limiting the number of passages to half of the normal vehicle capacity among others.
The president has also suspended communal prayers in mosques and churches as believers have been asked to pray from their respective homes or make use of the mass mediate case was during the first national lockdown. However, marriage ceremonies, burials, and vigils have been allowed so long as they don’t exceed 20 people and are held in strict observance of standard operating procedures.
Furthermore, all public gatherings, conferences have also been suspended except for The Cabinet, Parliament, and The Judiciary.
Museveni also banned travelers from category A country (high-risk countries; currently only India is listed in this category. But he added that over time, this might be revised by the ministry of health.
Other suspended activities include; weekly non-food markets and monthly cattle markets, bars, cinema halls, discos, and concerts while Sports events have been allowed to go on without spectators but still under strict observance of sops including testing participants before each game.
Shopping malls and supermarkets have also been allowed to operate under close surveillance for about one week and it is found that they cannot adhere to SOPs, they will be closed.
In the same development, Shopping arcades, hardware shops, saloons, garages, food markets, lodges, and other commercial entities have been allowed to operate up to 7; 00 p.m. though curfew time has been maintained at between 9;00 p.m. and 5; 30 a.m.
Museveni says that unlike in the past, those found in violation of the set guidelines and restrictions will be fined a yet-to-be-set fee. The president says the secretary to the treasure will issue security controlled receipt book for this purpose.
He, however, emphasized that if Ugandans fail to observe the set guidelines and restrictions he will be left with no option other than announcing a total lockdown.
To date, Uganda has registered a total of 52,929 covid19 cases. Of these 374 have succumbed to the disease while 43,487 have recovered. However, only 8 percent of the infected patients are currently admitted to hospitals.