The education sector is perhaps the most sensitive to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Not only are parents very anxious about the safety of their children catching the killer disease, the sheer number of students and teachers is simply too big to be left on their own.
Although the state Minister for higher education J.C Muyingo is quoted as having said that they are ready to open schools if the health ministry allows them, this is far from the truth.
It is estimated that more than 15 million Ugandans are in school as students. If you add teachers, transporters, cooks, and other logistical suppliers, the figure can reach 18m involved in the running of schools.
Without proper and early preparations for schools to resume is preparing for disaster.
Although the government had indicated that schools might open before the end of the year, considering the logistical challenges involved, it is safe to conclude that this will not be possible.
And yet, it is hard to imagine that schools will remain closed through next year before a working vaccine is discovered and distributed.
Under these circumstances, we would like to ask relevant authorities in the education sector to come up with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), announce them so stakeholders can act on them in a timely and safe fashion.
The importance of having the SOPs for the sector early enough is to allow for proper planning but also avoid stampedes.
If for example the government requires that all schools have to record the temperatures of all day pupils and teachers before they enter schools, it will cause a spike in the price of temperature monitors.
We also know that majority of Ugandan schools experience crowding not only in classes but also in dormitories.
In the current COVID environment, it is safe to imagine that schools will reduce on crowding. But school administrators need to be informed early to put in place the necessary requirements.
Using the delay in the distribution of government sponsored face masks to Ugandans as a guide, it is safe to asume that implementing SOPs for the education sector will be harder.
Releasing the SOPs early will also help the parents to make decisions on what to spend on as they shop for their kids going forward.