Deputy Director Generla GeneraL,GES, Kwabena Bempah Tandoh on PM Express

Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES), Kwabena Bempah Tandoh says his outfit is relying on advice from health practitioners to keep schools in the country open amidst the surging novel coronavirus pandemic.

According to him, they have been working closely with health professionals “in terms of what we can do to ensure that we bring our certain groups of students back into the schools.”

“And we’re receiving trainings in certain areas in terms of what we need to do around symptom detection and such. And we are relying on the advice of health professionals to look at once there is a case in a school as we have in Accra Girls’ in terms of do we close or do we not close? That is the decision the health practitioners after their assessment will make a call for us or at least recommend to us,” he added.

He asserted that should the health professionals recommend that schools be shut down again; the GES would do just that.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Kwabena Tandoh explained that at the moment should there even be such a recommendation schools wouldn’t be shut down at a go, instead, it would be taken on a school by school approach to preventing the risk of spread of the virus.

“One of the things in conversations that I’ve been hearing in a couple of days is that I keep hearing even from the health professionals is that at this point you have a ‘semi-quarantined’ group of students on campus.

“If you have identified say, five or six cases like in the case of Accra Girls’ before you can finish your contact tracing and know who is affected and who is not affected. If you say close and let everybody go home, you’re increasing the risk for everybody because the students will go in all directions.

“So just like at the University of Ghana, the president instructed closures of schools at the beginning, because they had some cases at the University of Ghana, the students had to wait for some time, for some contact tracing to be done before they could make the decision to allow them to go,” he explained.

At the moment, there have been 13 reported positive cases of Covid-19 in secondary schools across the country.

According to the GES Deputy Director-General, considering the fact that schools just reopened exactly two weeks ago, and the gestation period of the virus being 14 days (two weeks), it indicates that the students may have been infected with the virus before arriving in their various schools.

He said though there have been conversations about a possible threshold for the closure of schools if the number of positive Covid-19 cases surge, the GES will continue to rely on the advice of the health professionals to make that decision.

“There have been conversations around what do you do when we reopen and there are outbreaks because there were the expectation and the understanding that you cannot bring the risk down to zero. So there were conversations around what is good, what is safe and what is not safe.

“We do know that once the advice comes from health practitioners that we should close, we will close. But we’re also careful not to double communicate otherwise people will be sitting there counting cases.  And you don’t want a situation that you have invited students to come back to school and they’re sitting there counting cases ‘am I going to write or am I not going to write? is my school going to close or it’s not going to close?

“And so we were careful to understand how we ensure that the students have a certain level of peace of mind as they come back to school,” he explained.