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September 26, 2021

Burundi schools reopen as Uganda pushes for vaccination first

Schools in Burundi are set to reopen on Monday September 13, after a three-month long holiday, amid a surge in Covid-19 cases countrywide.

The Ministry of Health has imposed mandatory Covid-19 screening for students reporting back to school.

“The tests are mandatory for students in secondary school and boarding schools, the rest may go for the test voluntarily,” Jean Bosco Girukwishaka, spokesman for the Minister of Health told The EastAfrican.

Mass testing for students, teachers and staff members of boarding or secondary schools kicked off on Friday, and will run to Tuesday September 14.

“In the first week of September 2021 Covid-19 cases increased especially in Bujumbura and other towns in the countryside and this is as a result of not complying with already preventive measures against the pandemic,” reads a statement from the Ministry for Health.

According to the government’s Covid-19 report dated September 6, 2021 the daily average rate of new Covid-19 cases stood at 154, since July 21, 2021 the date when the highest number of new cases was recorded.

However, the situation is different in Uganda. Schools remain closed in the country to date, despite several hints by government officials and a slow successful teacher vaccination campaign initiated late August. Recently, First Lady Janet Museveni echoed President Yoweri Museveni’s stand that schools will only open if all the teachers and non-teaching staff were vaccinated

Since closure in May 2020, only a few classes such as the candidate and finalists have had in-person lessons. Students from the rest of the classes such as Senior 1 and 2 as well as Primary 1 have not been to school since.

And in a TV appearance recently, Information and National Guidance Minister Chris Baryomunsi and said while it won’t be long before schools are opened, clear safety measures will have to be put in place first.

“Since we expect dozens of vaccines, we should be able to vaccinate as many people as possible,” he said. The Ministry of Education spokesperson Denis Mugimba, says about 183,000 teachers have been vaccinated out of 550,000 teachers targeted, in addition to about 180,000 non-teaching staff.

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