Re – Opening Schools: What Students and Parents Say

Some parents think it is unsafe and costly to send their children back to school given the risks of the COVID -19. They favor holding school completely until next year, basing on high transport costs, school dues and scholastic materials meant for the children.

Pascal Busingye, a parent and security guard working at Paramount Health Centre, with three children says the funds are not available. He says government should halt opening schools for a one year, after he spent all savings during the total lockdown.

Busingye, who has worked for two months at his new job requires six million shillings to send his children back to school. Evelyn Lunkuse, a Team Leader for Distribution at Old Mutual Insurance and parent with four children, plus a brother studying nursing at Mengo hospital says the topic is theoretical. She takes school opening as a rumor and this raises doubts about whether the COVID -19 preventive measures are in place in schools.

However, Gerald, a nursing student at Mengo hospital says it would be fine to get back to school if the hospital is decongested, the students can have enough space in the lectures rooms, wards and hostels. Lunkuse, needs at least six million shillings for tuition and other requirements, in order to get back to school.

Mariam Nagawa, a senior four student of Faiha Secondary School is optimistic candidate students can study given the spacious environment at school, but the hiked transport costs of 2000 from 500 shillings, to travel from Kabaga to Namere in Kawempe division may deter many from studying.

Abbias Tumwerinde, a cobbler at Mulago referral hospital and parent at St. Martin Primary school will have to spend 8,000 shillings for each of his four children to travel from Mpererwe in Wakiso district to St Martin Primary School in Mulago II village in Kampala to study. He says in addition to other requirements like food, clothing, COVID -19 protective gears and school fees, he cannot afford the cost and government should reduce school fees before opening up schools.

He needs 440,000 shillings to take the children to school, in case government opens them. The mixed feelings among parents and students reflect deep and widespread anxiety among parents as they anticipate the end of a lock down in Uganda, that has produced no national consensus on how to balance the risks of COVID -19 against the academic, social and economic impacts of keeping schools closed.

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