Despite Government Warnings: Schools Continue to Disrespect Covid-19 Barrier Measures

The Minister of Secondary Education, Prof. Pauline Nolova Lyonga signed a press release on Tuesday, September 14, warning all school about the non-respect of Covid-19 barrier measures. This was following a series of unannounced visits she paid to schools, but found that practically no school was acting in accordance with Covid-19 barrier measures.

 

Following the non-respect of Covid-19 barrier measures in schools two weeks into the 2021/2022 academic year, the minister of Secondary Education in a press release gave all schools till Friday, September 17 to put in place all necessary measures to ensure the respect of barrier measures.

However, most schools visited this Monday September 20 in the Yaoundé IV subdivision were less determined to keep Covid-19 at bay.

Students and pupils in this subdivision were spotted this Monday morning as early as 6:30.a.m. heading to their different schools all without their face masks on.

Looking at this, one thought that the situation will be different once the learners arrive at their different learning instructions.

Though some school authorities on their part are leaving no stone unturned as far as putting in place measures to ensure that their institutions are free from Covid-19, much is still left undone.

Be it at the Government Bilingual High school Ekounou, Amasia Complex, College Pétou, Government Bilingual High school Essos or St. Marie Albert, school authorities say that ensuring the systematic wearing of face masks, respecting the one meter physical distancing and the washing of hands still remain a call for concern in schools.

Most students, they say put on their masks at the gate as a laissez-passer, but take them off once on campus. It is even more difficult among primary school pupils and form one students, who are still very ignorant about the effects of the pandemic.

According to school authorities, these children need to be constantly reminded, and even punished before they act accordingly. “Punishment is the new strategy that we have adopted to ensure the systematic wearing of face mask among our students, particularly the junior ones. We give them very light punishments just to correct them,” said the Dean of Studies of GBHS Ekounou.

Few are students and lecturers who recall to put on their masks while in classrooms. In schools, we mostly find at least three students per bench and more than 50 students per class. When asked, school administrators say that the available space is insufficient to contain the number of students, even after implementing the two shifts system.

The rise in the number of students is mainly explained by the Anglophone crisis that has caused students to flee from the crisis hit regions and seek refuge in Yaoundé. Most school neither have the financial means nor the space to set up additional classrooms.

Students on their part complain that they cannot cope wearing face masks for long hours. Others, particularly those with nerves, eyes and respiratory problems say that they are completely allergic to it.

Canteens in schools are not different from public markets during break, as students storm the whole area scrambling over food.

The situation is not different on campus yards, where students and pupils run helter-skelter to relax their minds for subsequent lessons. Few are those who remember to wash or disinfect their hands after coming into contact with friends.

Some who are willing to clean their hands fall short of water, as hand wash points in most schools are worn out. It is either water no longer flows, or buckets are broken.

However, they still exist some few schools that strictly respect covid barrier measures till now. This is common in private schools, where their limited population permits a proper management of students.

Educators plead that other measures such as e-learning be put in place, if covid-19 barrier measures must be respected.

Ingrid KENGNE

 

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