The Ministry of Health has cautioned all school administrators and owners to desist from demanding COVID-19 tests from learners as schools reopen next week.
Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director Health Services at MoH, in a Thursday January 6 letter, noted that some school administrators are setting up private laboratories to do the testing on the learners at a fee.
“We would like to advise that testing of learners on admission or before arrival is not the official position of the COVID-19 National Task Force,” Mwebesa said.
“Recommendations in the guidelines were based on three pillars including putting in place a system for strict compliance to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in every school, establishing a system for monitoring and isolating symptomatic cases in schools and reporting to a nearby health facility and closely working with the community to address COVID-19 issues,” he added.
The jointly developed guidelines by the Ministry of Education and Sports and that of MOH, Dr. Mwebesa said, were specific on how learners would be returning to school and that testing them wasn’t part of the recommendation.
“If it is deemed necessary, due to soaring cases, all learners will be tested by the Ministry of Health and not the private laboratories,” Mwebasa said.
Likewise, the Minister of Education, Janet Kataaha Museveni has cautioned school administrators against demanding COVID-19 negative results from learners, or forcing them to take a COVID-19 test before they are allowed in schools.
Mrs Museveni, who on Thursday was addressing the country on guidelines for school reopening slated for next Monday, January 10, said that the demand for a negative COVID-19 test will increase the cost of education on many families already affected by the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have received reports that some schools are asking parents to pay for COVID-19 tests or present negative results of their children’s COVID-19 tests before the children are allowed into the schools. We think that this is likely to increase cost of education on many families that are already financially constrained by the effects of COVID-19,” she said.
Mrs Museveni told schools that the technical guidance from Ministry of Health is that it is better to emphasize the preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19, including vaccination for the eligible populations, social distancing, hand washing and wearing of masks.
“A negative COVID-19 test result should not be a condition for allowing learners back in school, especially those under 18 years of age who are not being vaccinated. Therefore, schools should desist from charging parents for COVID-19 tests or requiring that learners present negative results of Covid-19 before they are allowed in school,” she emphasized.
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