Editor's Comment

Pupils, parents should adapt to new normal

IT IS said that charity begins at home.
This adage has become so true in the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) era. Since Government announced the reopening of schools on June 1, there have been mixed feelings on the part of parents.
Some parents and guardians are sceptical about the reopening of schools for fear that their children might contract COVID-19 in view of the increasing number of cases in the country.
As far as some parents and guardians are concerned, Government’s decision to reopen schools is not a good decision as it puts at risk their children and dependants.
If they had their way, schools should have remained closed until the COVID-19 is eliminated.
But schools had to open because the remote learning due to COVID-19 has not helped matters, since not all pupils have access to television or smartphones. Access to electricity is also a challenge, hence remote learning disadvantaged learners from peri-urban and rural areas.
Government has also realised the other negative impacts of the partial lockdown on the country’s socio-economic activities.
It is the reason Government has been lifting and loosening the partial lockdown by reopening schools, restaurants, casinos, gymnasiums and churches.
With hopes of finding either a cure or a vaccine for COVID-19 still unlikely until well into 2021 or beyond, the economy and lifestyle can no longer be a hostage.
It is reported that at least 90 vaccines are under development. But inoculating people from the virus around the world is still far from being feasible.
It is the reason some restrictions are being eased while ensuring that cases do not escalate.
With schools due to open, parents and guardians hold the key to ensuring that their children stay safe at home while going to school and returning.
Teachers and other school authorities should also ensure that they are on top of things regarding total compliance to guidelines by health experts.
It will surely be a challenge for pupils to fit in the new normal, but life has to continue. It means that all public schools will be required to procure thermometers for checking pupils and teachers’ temperatures.
Pupils and school authorities will have to get used to wearing masks all the time while in public, and showing how to wear one properly, washing hands with soap regularly or sanitising, as well as maintaining physical distances.
Government has lightened the burden of the school authorities and learners’ task of complying with COVID-19 guidelines with the disbursement of K24.9 million to schools countrywide for the purchase of masks, sanitisers and soaps in preparation for examination classes that will reopen on June 1, 2020.
This is a good gesture which should be embraced by all because it speaks to Government’s desire to ensure that learners and teachers are insulated from COVID-19.
While money in itself cannot insulate pupils and teachers, there is need to continue adhering to the stay safe guidelines all the time.
Maintaining high standards of hygiene and good nutrition are key to fighting COVID-19.
Added to high standards of hygiene and good nutrition is accountability for the funds. School authorities should not abuse the resources.
Disbursements of public funds should be accompanied by caution on wise utilisation by not diverting resources to what they are not intended for.
There is need for transparency and accountability not only in the disbursement of the fund but in the procurement process too.

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