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COVID-19: Implications for Rural Schools

The reopening of basic schools is anticipated though scientists are still grappling with finding a vaccine to combat the deadly coronavirus. Rural areas of the country by far have been spared the infection of the virus.When schools reopen and the virus has not been totally eradicated, then there would be some dangers and challenges that policy makers would need to address.

One key issue is that, most of our rural schools have neither bungalows nor rented apartments for staff.The practice thus, has been for teachers to routinely commute from towns to the villages to teach daily.Most of these teachers go on motorbikes or travel with tricycles. The other means is to board commercial vehicles, which are few and far between, and are more often than not, overloaded. These means of transportation for teachers are very risky and can facilitate the spread of the virus among commuters and the pupils as well.

Another is that, most of these rural schools lack classroom infrastructure. Some classes as such, must necessarily be merged before teaching can take place.This practice puts these poor pupils in a very precarious situation and makes them susceptible to the contraction of Covid-19.

Again, the pupils who study under trees are prone to the infection of the virus in many ways. When the weather is hot, and it often  is, pupils  fight for the little shade under the trees hence making practicing of social distancing impossible. When it rains, school is closed before time or these pupils are made to join the few classes with classrooms to share the little space available.

Moreover, the school feeding programme which helps pupils stay in school and learn with some peace of mind can be a catalyst for the spread of Covid-19.Caterers normally buy the foodstuffs and other ingredients from the market centres to the rural areas to prepare the food for the pupils. This puts the caterers in a position to easily contract and spread the disease to the pupils.

Even in some cases, two or three pupils share one bowl during eating; a situation which prevents social distancing and enhancesrapid spread of Covid-19.

Finally, some pupils may never be able to buy a facemask to protect themselves.In view of these, I urge school authorities and the Ministry of Education to put in place precautionary measures in our rural schools so that our children in the villages would be protected against the spread of the novel Covid-19.

Source: Samuel Kwasi Atta

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