The Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) has announced that schools are set to continue with blended learning for the 2021/2022 academic year. Students from public schools, private schools, and kindergartens will attend at 50% capacity and alternate between online and in-person lessons.
The MOEHE said that this decision was taken based on the current state of Covid-19 in the country. According to them, this arrangement is in line with the preventative measures authorities are currently taking to control the spread of infections.
Other Safety Measures
Besides blended learning, the MOEHE outlined the other precautions schools will be expected to follow. These include:
• splitting students into groups of no more than 15 for classes and maintaining a 1.5-metre distance between them at all times
• mandating mask-wearing for students from year one onwards
• maintaining a bubble system inside the classroom and organising entries and exits to stop overcrowding
• operating student buses at 50% capacity
• ensuring that students eat their meals in class
• ensuring that they take all their exams on school grounds
• cancelling morning assemblies and other group activities and making them remote if possible
Students with chronic illnesses and disabilities that could make them vulnerable to severe Covid-19 will be allowed to forego in-person lessons. However, they must get a medical certificate approved by the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) and continue attending them online.
What About School Staff?
So far, 94% of all school staff (teachers, administrators, and others) from all schools have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19. Those who have not been vaccinated or are not fully vaccinated will be required to take a weekly MOPH-approved rapid antigen Covid-19 test—but this will not apply to those who have recovered from the virus. All staff will also be required to comply with preventative measures and cooperate with authorities if suspected or confirmed Covid cases arise. The MOEHE said that failure to adhere to these measures would result in legal consequences for those involved.
Do All These Rules Apply to All Types of Schools?
Almost. Special needs schools, technical and other specialised schools, and village schools will also have to follow the same rules. The only exception the MOEHE makes are schools with a small student body. These will be allowed to resume with a 100% attendance rate, provided that classrooms contain no more than 15 students. Still, those students will also have to stay 1.5 metres apart.
When Does School Start?
Government schools start for students on 29th August 2021, but private schools and kindergartens will start according to their own schedules.