Schools Reopen Today

Thousands of primary and secondary school pupils across the country in Class 6, JSS1 and SSS3 will return to their various classrooms to prepare for their National Primary School Examination (NPSE), Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE), respectively, that was inevitably postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak that hit not only Sierra Leone but large parts of the world.

All three exams are conducted by the West Africa Examinations Council (WAEC). Schools will remain open for six weeks to enable pupils prepare for the exams.

It could be recalled that schools were closed on the 31st of March, 2020 after the country recorded its first COVID-19 case. Before today’s reopening, an emergency education task force was set up by the Ministry of Education to handle logistical requirement ahead of the planned reopening to prevent spread of the Coronavirus in Sierra Leone.

 The Ministry of Education has put in place guidelines to protect pupils, teachers and the community from transmission of COVID-19, enhance the safety of students especially girls and to enhance teaching and learning to improve outcomes. They are as follows:

  • Schools will run from 8.45am to 2pm, five days a week
  • Only one shift, no afternoon shifts
  • 20 minutes break. Pupil must remain in their classrooms
  • No recess period. Cafeterias will not operate. Parents should provide lunch packs for pupils
  • Schools will provide dry rations of food for NPSE pupils to take home
  • Physical distancing to be adhered to at all times
  • Government will provide a one-way transportation for pupils and teachers returning to locations of learning
  • No extra classes beyond 2pm deadline
  • Pupils and teachers must observe all COVID-19 prevention protocols, anyone showing signs and symptoms or feels ill must report to the 117 call center
  • Pupils and teachers should stay home if they experience symptoms of COVID-19
  • Face masks must be provided by schools and parents should ensure face masks are washed.
  • Pupils should use hand sanitizers before and after classes.
  • Pupils should provide telephone contacts of three parents or guardians
  • Anyone who violates these guidelines will be dealt with through disciplinary measures

The Ministry will announce further guidelines and suggestions as the process unfolds.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Education, Dr David Moinina Sengeh has said, “We are not going to cast the future of our children on destiny…If there is a hiccup, we will review our decision.”