On Monday, October 20, final year students at the University of Rwanda resumed physical classes after nearly a seven-month closure due to Covid-19.
Aside from the University of Rwanda, all Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centers (IPRCs) and other higher learning institutions have welcomed their students back for physical classes as the country gears towards full resumption.
However, considering that the development will bring together various students from different paths of life, experts say that there is need for heightened responsibility in order to strengthen the fight against the coronavirus pandemic even more.
Dr James Gashumba, the vice chancellor of Rwanda Polytechnic, noted that the returning students have to adapt very quickly to a ‘new normal’.
The new measures, Gashumba says, include requirements for social distancing, frequent handwashing, wearing a face mask and frequent testing and temperature monitoring.
“As I mentioned earlier, the mode of teaching or learning is going to be decidedly student-centred, meaning that students will be in charge of their own learning process,” he says, adding that a lot of responsibility, therefore, is going to be placed on the students for their health and well-being as well as their education.
“There must be a heightened sense of community and a recognition that a careless act by one could lead to an outbreak of the disease,” Gashumba says.
He points out that his institution is well prepared to make sure that students can learn in a conducive and safe environment.
“Rest assured that Rwanda Polytechnic management is here to walk with you along the way as you settle back in your campuses or continue studying remotely until December,” Gashumba says.
He says only final year students are currently returning to their respective centres while the rest (2nd and 1st year) will return in December.
Damien Nkurunziza, the principal at Kigali City School, believes that it is within the students’ capacity to prevent a second Covid-19 wave.
“We have seen cases whereby schools shut down a few weeks after reopening. This can be prevented by mostly the students as well as the respective school administrations,” Nkurunziza says.
Considering that Covid-19 cases have started to slowly go down in the country, Nkurunziza is of the view that the development can be maintained regardless of the re-opening of schools.
“Of course that can be maintained. We have all the facilities put in place. The students should prioritise safety before anything,” he says.
Perpetue Mukabahizi, Nyambuye Primary School headteacher, says that while schools reopen, students ought to think of the time spent at home without in person class sessions.
“I believe that it is an experience that neither teachers nor students would like to re-encounter, therefore, that should reflect on what could happen if the country experiences a second outbreak.”
Mukabahizi also says that schools should impose strict measures for students who fail to abide by the Covid-19 containment measures.
“Schools, I think, should set very strict measures for students who don’t want to follow the preventive guidelines as indicated by the health authorities,” she says.Follow https://twitter.com/EdwinAshimwe