Varsity students weigh in on viability of reopening schools

In a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic, students have since mid-March shifted to digital learning after all schools were closed in the country.

However, given the difficulty of the pandemic and its variation across the globe, some institutions (universities) have begun to unveil plans for reopening in September.

 

Some students have welcomed the step citing that it will, among other factors, address a number of home-schooling challenges.

 

A certain number of students however have raised concerns over the development remarking that it would be even more difficult to contain the virus in such instances.

 

But learning from home, says Kennedy Mutabazi, a second year student at Mount Kenya University has been a challenging task for most students.

There is need for schools to establish tight measures in order to keep the students safe. File.

“Personally, even though I access different gadgets that facilitate my home-schooling, the transition has been quite challenging. I don’t think it hasn’t felt the same for my fellow students,” he adds.

Mutabazi notes that failure to practice a number of concepts with his fellow colleagues has been the most challenging aspect of home schooling.

“If schools re-open like they have started to announce, I look forward to the hands-on practices that we mainly carried out in groups. This really helped us understand some of these subjects better. And it is evident that we can’t conduct research when we are in our homes,” he explains.

Personally, I miss the whole campus environment, says another student, Agnes Nkusi. 

“The idea of waking up early, preparing for in-person courses, going to the laboratory, consulting teachers every time we have a problem as well as studying in groups is just nothing close to studying from home,” Nkusi says.

Some students are excited about the plan to re-open schools. Net photo.

She adds that most students will prefer going back to schools because then distractions from the home environment can be lessened.

Need for tight measures 

Meanwhile, even though it has not been clear when schools are expected to resume their in-person courses, a number of colleges have started unveiling plans for reopening.

For instance the University of Rwanda, on Monday, July 27 announced plans to reopen its institution highlighting that this will be done in line with the pandemic’s containment measures, which they say are already at an advanced stage.

However, Isaac Higiro, a student at the University of Kigali believes that the decision to reopen schools will only be effective if the plan is dictated by the country’s health assessment.

“We (students) all want to go back to school, but in my opinion I believe that it is still early to resume in-person courses basing on the fact that we could be at a higher risk of being infected with the novel-coronavirus,” Higiro says.

Additionally, most students are excited about the plan to re-open schools and this may lead to forgetting the basic preventive measures from Covid-19, he highlights.

For Dinah Umutoni, a student at the University of Tourism, Technology and Business Studies (UTB) there is need for schools to establish tight measures in order to keep the students safe.

“I think it all lies in the ability of an institution to keep its students safe. I personally like the fact that some schools have unveiled plans to resume, but there needs to be uniform guidelines that they will observe,” she notes.

Decisions about how and when to reopen schools must be based on science, says Faustin Gashaija, a principal at University of Rwanda College of Business and Economics (CBE).

Gashaija adds that this includes both the best science on controlling the spread of Covid-19 and keeping students, families and school staff safe as well as the science of learning and development for children.

Stating UR as an example, he says, “We are at an advanced stage of re-opening our institution. We have installed handwashing facilities, there are thermometers that will be measuring students’ temperatures and we are also reducing the number of students per room to mention but a few.”

Besides, he adds that the university has put more platforms to encourage online learning as a means to reduce crowds of students once schools re-open.

eashimwe@newtimesrwanda.com

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