Uganda cautions school heads against forcing students to take COVID-19 tests.
Uganda’s health minister has warned school administrators against forcing students to take COVID-19 tests as a condition for allowing them back into class, more than two years since the institutions were closed due to the pandemic.
Jane Ruth Aceng spoke at a media briefing on Friday, during which she outlined the steps the government has taken to ensure the safety of learners in the institutions.
Pre-primary, primary, and secondary schools are scheduled to reopen on Monday, January 10 after President Yoweri Museveni greenlighted the move.
“The Ministry of Health would like to guide that testing of learners prior to going back to school or on arrival is not an official position of the COVID-19 National Taskforce,” Aceng said.
“Testing before returning to school is not necessary because it is only beneficial when there is a history of contact or symptoms. Mass testing will not guarantee there won’t be infection among the tested because some will be in the early stages. Mass testing is effective if it is done frequently like every week, which is not sustainable and not a guarantee for ensuring no outbreak. The ministry, therefore, advises the school administrations to desist from demanding that learners should take COVID-19 tests or charge any money for COVID-19 tests for learners returning to schools,” she added.
Other learning institutions, including universities and other post-secondary facilities, were allowed to reopen in September.
In her address, Aceng expressed confidence that the government had put in place adequate measures to protect learners from the disease upon the resumption of classes.
She pointed out that the health ministry had introduced new measures for early identification, reporting, isolation, and management of COVID-19 cases as well as care for the mental and psycho-social wellbeing of the school population.
The government last year mandated vaccination for teachers as a precondition for their resumption of duty.
So far, Uganda has reported a total of 151,762 COVID-19 infections with 3,333 deaths since the onset of the pandemic.