By Olivia Nabaggala
19th February 2021
Nursery schools and other Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs) will not be closed permanently, government has disclosed.
Their reopening however is dependent on the arrival of much-awaited COVID-19 vaccines, and their rollout.
This pronouncement comes amidst fears that the Ministry of Education had banned nursery schools, and advised that learners start their education cycle in Primary One.
The Ministry had announced that Pre-Primary schools will remain closed because the learners in this category are prone to respiratory infections.
It added that because many of the pre-primary institutions are day-based, they cannot observe Standard Operating Procedures, yet there are a lot of interfaces between learners, teachers and parents, which could increase the risk of infections.
This implied that an estimated three million children aged 3-5 years who were enrolled in nursery schools would remain home until further notice.
But Patrick Muinda, the Assistant Commissioner of Information Technology and Communication in the Education Ministry says that nursery schools will reopen, but only when teachers have been vaccinated against the virus.
He added that they have been advised to delay the re-opening of ECD centres/nursery schools primarily because children/toddlers are super-spreaders of the COVID-19 virus.
It is feared that a child contracting the COVID-19 virus may carry it with very high viral loads endangering their teachers. It is therefore envisaged that the time for re-opening ECD centres is dependent on how soon teachers in these nursery schools will be vaccinated,” he said.
Uganda has ordered 18 million doses of vaccines both from within the COVAX facility and from Serum Institute of India, The first vaccines from the COVAX facility are expected to be delivered at the end of February 2021. However, it is not yet known when vaccinations are likely to start in the country.
According to the Health Ministry, an estimated 550,000 teachers and other essential workers will be among the first persons to get the vaccine in the first phase.
But, due to delivery delays, the officials from the ministry of health say the vaccines will likely not be delivered by the end of February or even March 2021.