The Ministry of Education will start countrywide inspection of schools this week to assess their readiness to reopen for more classes. Government only allowed finalists to resume classes last month following a seven-month closure of schools due to the outbreak of the Covid-19.
During inspection, ministry officials will focus on the schools' observance of standard operating procedures (SoPs) and their capacity to manage more classes.
"We are going to do an inspection and the results of the inspection will inform our decision on whether other classes should reopen or not. We are also going to do an assessment to know how ready the schools are in terms of adding more classes," Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the director for basic and secondary education, told Daily Monitor.
Asked how the ministry will handle social distancing, Mr Mulindwa said they are working within the existing facilities.
"We are making assessment within the available resources to see if we can add more classes. For example, the sub-candidates maybe Primary Six and Senior Five or Three. While we have already opened candidate classes, our assumption is that we still have space to add more classes, but that will be informed by the report of the inspection which will start very soon," he said.
Head teachers welcomed the exercise, saying they are preparing for the full reopening.
Mr Martine Okiria Obore, the national chairperson of the Association of Secondary School Head teachers of Uganda, said schools are already putting in place facilities to accommodate the extra learners.
"Since we opened on October 15, by next year when we intend to open all the other classes, the schools will be ready because most provisions will be in place," Mr Okiria said.
"When I moved around some schools, people were providing outdoor spaces. Also considering that in first term, there isn't heavy rain; spaces can be provided outside for the learners. The only hiccup will be the social distancing in the dormitories," he added.
Mr Okiria said discussions are already ongoing to address the challenges that may arise, adding that all options are being explored to ensure safety of learners.
"I see possibility of people becoming very dynamic and some becoming day schools. I see head teachers and districts discussing all the options and advising each other on what option can best work. Already there are a lot of engagements at district level. We are also trying to collect data about the inadequacies in various schools about the infrastructure so that by the time we open, we have a well-informed position," he said.
On what happens to candidates from the schools that failed to reopen due to lack of SoPs, Mr Okiria said other head teachers have been cooperative and absorbed the students.