By Alagie Manneh
Students and teachers returning to schools from the Covid-19 restrictions, including tertiary institutions have not been observing regulations surrounding the re-opening of schools, a survey conducted by The Standard revealed.
Apart from cleaning or hygiene materials at entrances, none of the measures outlined by education authorities is being followed at schools visited by The Standard in the Greater Banjul Areas.
Some of these schools are Daddy Jobe Comprehensive Senior Secondary School, University of The Gambia, Greater Banjul and Bakau Upper Basic schools.
“We are confident that none of us has this virus,” a UTG student who was not socially distancing and sitting close to a colleague, told The Standard.
A lot of other people in the university had no masks, neither was there temperature checking.
The situation was even worse at Daddy Jobe Comprehensive, where hardly any student or staff wore masks. In one instance, about a dozen students were camped in a corner.
When asked why that was the case, the vice principal of the school, tried to explain: “Of course we are following the regulations but the problem here is discipline of the students. Even the minister was here this morning but many students decided to remove their masks. It is not easy but we are trying.”
The vice principal himself had no mask on as he attended to guests in his office.
Pa Sillah, head of department, Bakau Upper Basic School said the regulations cannot be observed in his school because there are no PPEs.
“It’s only Unicef that donated us with a water cleansing container placed at our entrance. The ministry since the reopening last week, hasn’t done anything for us beside providing some soaps and detergents and a bucket.”
Contacted on the non-observation of the regulations, the Minister of Basic Education and Secondary Education, Claudiana Cole said only teachers, and not herself, can answer that question.
“Is it me who is to blame? Am I going to stand on every student’s shoulder and demand they put on their masks?” she asked.
Minister Cole said generally, a lot of Gambians are not taking Covid regulations seriously. “Do you know how many people I saw in the streets without masks? People are not following [government guidelines].”
The minister, who was on a conducted tour of the schools, insisted that all guidelines were followed at all the schools she visited.
“When I was there, they all had their masks on.”
On the allegations that her ministry has done little or nothing to provide facemasks for schools, the minister said: “The facemasks were ready last week and by last weekend, we started distributions. Perhaps the masks have not reached them all”.