SLAJ Concludes ‘Big Idea of the Week’ in the EU- Corona Fet Na We All Fet


By Amin Kef Sesay

This medium was intimated, within the context of “SLAJ EU- Corona Fet Na We All Fet” that the Week from the 6th – 12th July 2020 marked Big Idea of the Week during which the Association worked with relevant stakeholders to endeavour to keep children safe in schools as schools reopened on the 1st of July 2020 for pupils taking NPSE, BECE and WASSE examinations.

SLAJ admonished the pupils to be leaders in keeping themselves, their schools, families and communities safe and work with their friends to look after the health and well-being of other pupils.

The Association also cautioned teachers to ensure that health measures are fully implemented, to wear cloth masks and ensure pupils wear theirs, to identify sick learners, isolate them and inform the relevant health and school authorities.

As for Parents/caregivers, SLAJ appealed to them to ensure that their children  wear cloth masks when leaving their houses and that the masks must be washed each day. They also advised them that they should not send their children to school if they are sick. SLAJ also stated that the NPSE, BECE and WASSE are international examinations and must be taken at a particular time.

The Association further underscored that it is important for pupils taking those examinations to complete the exams on time stating that there is greater flexibility for other classes and covering contents missed during this period in the next session.

It furthered that the reopening of schools for only pupils taking NPSE, BECE and WASSE allows for more space for pupils and teachers to keep safe distance from each other and learn in a safe environment. SLAJ suggested that certain people must be targeted and interviewed naming the Minister of Education, District Deputy Directors of Education, School Heads ,Head of Parent-Teacher Associations, Teachers ,pupils ,Head of EducAid ,Head of Rising Academy.

It also suggested that pertinent questions for interviews and panel discussions could border around: What are schools doing to protect pupils, teachers, and staff? Now that schools have reopened for a few days, what have you heard or learned from pupils returning to school? What challenges do pupils, teachers, and schools face as the coronavirus continues in Sierra Leone? What are recommendations for addressing these challenges?

It stated that the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) School Operations Guidelines for Examination (NPSE, BECE and WASSCE) Candidates are as follows:

  1. Operational hours for schools are from 8:45am – 2:00pm, 5 days a week.
  2. There will be no two-shift system or afternoon classes. All schools (including those in the afternoon shift before the closure of schools on 31st March 2020) will start at 8:45am and end at 2:00pm. Detailed daily school schedules/timetables will be shared by schools.
  3. Pupils will have one break for 20 minutes, and must remain in their classrooms during the break. Social distancing should be adhered to during this period at all times.
  4. There will be no recess or cafeteria opened to students during the operation of schools.
  5. Parents and guardians are encouraged to provide lunch packs for their children to carry to school. Government will supply take-home dry food rations to pupils in Primary schools during the operational periods of schools.
  6. The Government will provide a one-time transportation for all pupils and teachers needing to return to their locations of schooling and teaching. Details will be made public separately.
  7. The conduct of extra classes after the regular school hours (8:45am – 2:00pm) as stipulated in this release is strongly prohibited.
  8. Pupils and teachers are required to observe all other COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines in schools, and immediately report any sick student or teacher to the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Center by calling 117.
  9. Parents/guardians are encouraged to ensure that their children wash their hands before and after school with soap and water, or with alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and wash their face masks each day after school. Face masks will be provided by the Government to pupils.
  10. Parents are asked to keep their children at home if they have COVID-19-related symptoms and report to 117 immediately. Children with symptoms will be asked to return home.
  11. Any school or teacher who violates these guidelines will face disciplinary measures.

It was further revealed that it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of coronavirus reported among children. Sick pupils, teachers, and other staff are advised  not  to come to school but must stay home and call 117 if they have fever, tiredness, and cough stating that there is currently no available marklate for coronavirus.

SLAJ continued by disclosing that many of the symptoms can be treated and getting early care from a health worker can make the sickness less dangerous. It furthered how there are many research studies going on now to find a marklate to prevent coronavirus and treatments to help those who get it get better fast.

It reminded that scientists and researchers are working hard and as fast as possible, but these things take time for all to be very sure any marklate or treatment is safe for people.

With regards actions for pupils, SLAJ advised them to immediately tell their teachers if they are sick or their friends are sick.

That pupils must work with their friends to look after the health and well-being of each other and other students.

They must share school health and other healthy behaviors with their friends or promote handwashing with soap and water or use of hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol-based, cough and sneeze into their upper arms or sleeves.

To wear cloth face masks when they leave their houses and are around people as well as to wear masks when they use public transportation including bikes, kekehs, taxis, and poda podas.

Always maintain a safe distance of at least three feet or arms-stretched length from others. Limit close face-to-face contacts with others in school and other places, to tell their parents, another family members or caregivers if  they feel sick, and ask to stay home.

They were also advised to make sure to continue learning activities at home and listen to the radio teaching programme.

SLAJ stated that in a situation like this, it is normal to feel sad, worried, confused, scared or angry but they should know that they are not alone and must talk to people they trust, like their parents or teachers so that pupils can help keep themselves and their schools safe and healthy.

They were encouraged to ask questions, educate themselves and get information from reliable sources, be a leader in keeping themselves, their schools, families and communities healthy.

SLAJ also admonished them to share what they have learnt about preventing disease with their families and friends, especially with younger children.

It stated that model good practices such as sneezing or coughing into their elbows and washing their hands, especially for younger family members.

They were told not to stigmatize their peers or tease anyone about being sick; remember that the virus doesn’t follow geographical boundaries, ethnicities, age or ability or gender.

With respect of actions for teachers, SLAJ advised them to implement all COVID-19 prevention and control measures in classrooms and school grounds.

To ensure that the school health measures are fully implemented in accordance with prevailing guidelines from the Government and its partners.

They were told to identify sick learners, isolate them, and inform relevant health authorities including their schools’ safety and emergency contacts.

To call 117 if they suspect that a learner or colleague has symptoms, always prioritize their safety and that of learners. Monitor classroom attendance daily and report absenteeism to the School Management, ensure that all learners are given quality lessons and adequately prepared.  Introduce the concept of social distancing, focus on good health behaviors, such as covering coughs and sneezes with the elbow and washing hands.

Remind pupils that they can model healthy behaviors for their families, encourage pupils to prevent and address stigma, discuss the different reactions they may experience and explain these are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. Encourage them to express and communicate their feelings, incorporate relevant health education into other subjects.

It was noted that science can cover the study of viruses, disease transmission and the importance of marklates. Social studies can focus on the history of pandemics and evolution of policies on public health and safety, media literacy lessons can empower students to be critical thinkers and makers, effective communicators and active citizens.

Outlining actions for Parents/Caregivers ,SLAJ stated that they must ensure that all in their home follow the COVID-19 prevention and control guidelines, ensure that their children wash their hands frequently with soap and water, or uses  hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol-based before, during and after school.

They must ensure that their children wear cloth face masks when leaving their houses for school and those masks must be washed each day, not send their child to school if they are sick.

Encourage their children to read their books and listen to the radio teaching programme, teach and model good hygiene practices for their children, wash their hands with soap and water frequently but if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizers that are at least 60% alcohol-based.

To cough and sneeze into their elbows and avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, ensure that safe drinking water is available and toilets or latrines are cleaned and available at home, ensure waste is safely collected, stored and disposed of.

Encourage their children to ask questions and express their feelings with them and their teachers remembering that their children may have different reactions to stress; be patient and understanding. prevent stigma by using facts and reminding students to be considerate of one another and coordinate with the school to receive information and ask how they can support school safety efforts (through parent-teacher committees, etc.).



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here