FINDING REFUGE IN NOSE MASKS AT THE EXPENSE OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
The advent of Covid-19 has totally changed the way we go about our normal daily routines. All over the world and especially in Ghana, cultural norms have had to be shelved in favour of a new normal order that may never go away. Seen as a necessary inconvenience, this new way of doing things is an expedient protective measure against the rampaging scourge of the novel coronavirus.
Among the several protocols recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are washing of hands, using alcohol based sanitizers, wearing of nose masks and maintaining social/ physical distancing. Notwithstanding the constant daily rise of our case count, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has reopened schools for final year students in the tertiary, second cycle and basic institutions, after they were closed somewhere in March.
Given that countries which reopened schools have had to reverse the decision due to escalation of cases, it is understandable that parents and stakeholders are apprehensive of what seems like one scary big gamble by government. Israel state officials, for instance, ordered most schools which reopened to be shut after 130 cases were discovered in a single school. Similarly, the states of Florida and Texas have shut down their schools after reopening when cases in the United States hit 2.5 million. A few other countries can be cited as having done a complete volte-face when confronted with upsurge of cases after reopening their schools.
One disturbing phenomenon about Ghanaians in general and the youth in particular is the penchant to disregard laid-down rules and regulations. It is a common feature when you move around, to find a huddle of people chatting and fraternizing with reckless abandon and utter disregard for social distancing protocols. The practice is most common among the youth who seem to have a false sense of security by merely wearing nose masks.
For most of our students, unless proper stringent measures are put in place by school authorities, youthful exuberance and indiscipline will not allow them to be as careful as is necessary. Thus, as schools have been reopened for final year students at various levels of our education, it is an absolute necessity that a note of caution is sent to school managers to ensure students adhere strictly to all safety protocols; especially social distancing. Refuge should not be sought in the wearing of nose masks at the expense of social distancing. With the soaring Covid-19 cases globally and with no clear signs of any antidotal vaccines in sight, recommended protocols such as social distancing should not be lost on us.