As the 2020/2021 academic year begins, all the teachers of the ministry of Secondary Education are compelled to do the Corona virus test. The decision was announced by the minister of Secondary Education Prof Nalova Lyonga. According to the minister the test is supposed to be conducted in any government recognized hospital and results forwarded through the Principals who are charged with the responsibility of executing this decision. This is supposed to be a pre-condition for any teacher to effectively start teaching for this academic year. Schools can also arrange with the ministry of Public Health for a health team to visit their schools and do massive testing for their teachers. School authorities have begun implementing the decision as some schools have already arranged with the health team and their staff have been tested free of charge and names forwarded to hierarchy. Staff who opt to do their test individually are responsible for any cost incurred.
Some school authorities have published names of recalcitrant staff who have until now not done the test, requesting them to hurry and do the test to avoid any embarrassments in the days ahead.
What about students ?
The big question the teachers are asking is why teachers are subjected to do the COVID-19 test but students are not compelled as well. According to the teachers, the school environment remains unsafe if students who are the majority are not tested . Even after the teachers have done the test and had their results negative or non-reactive, they still ponder on the safety measures to adapt to remain safe in school especially in dealing with items regularly touched by students such as the record of work books and test/exam scripts amongst others.
Although distance learning has been recommended, it is still largely ineffective in implementation in terms of teacher competence and availability of ICT tools. It is against this backdrop that school authorities have called on both students and teachers to respect the COVID-19 preventive measures which include the wearing of face mask, social distancing and the use of hand sanitizers. It should be noted that following the upliftment of the COVID-19 restrictions the population misinterpreted this to mean that there was no longer any coronavirus again in Cameroon so they went about their normal life. School authorities are not finding it easy trying to instill the covid-19 consciousness to students and teachers. It is a common practice for students to wear their face mask just at the school gate to gain access and once on campus they either put them in their school bags or hang them below their chins. This constitute a risk to both the teachers and students.
In addition to the imposition of the COVID-19 test on teachers, they also have to grapple with the new and increased workload accompanying the two-shift system.
Teachers are of the opinion that the presentation of a COVID-19 negative result should have been a pre-condition for students’ admission for the school environment to be considered safe.