Against the declaration by President Akufo-Addo that the double-track system for first and third-year Senior High School students will end upon the resumption of school from January 18, more than one hundred categories ‘A’ and ‘B’ senior high schools (SHSs) will run the double-track system for their first-year students.
This is in variance to President Akufo-Addo’s announcement when he last updated the country on Ghana’s management of the coronavirus pandemic, while attributing the development to improved infrastructure.
“I must stress that SHS 3 students in all schools, like SHS 1 students, will no longer run the double-track system. The expansion of infrastructure at the various senior high schools, over the last three years, has brought us to this favorable situation,” he stated.
But the Ministry of Education and the Ghana Education Service have had to postponed the Wednesday10 March, 2021 reopening date to Thursday 18 to 21 March, 2021.
The postponement according to the release by the Ghana Education Service (GES) was meant to afford both parents and the management of the schools’ additional space for preparations.
The decision was informed by the second wave of COVID-19, which has necessitated the observance of social-distancing protocols by students.
Highly placed sources at the Ministry of Education and the GES hinted the Daily Graphic yesterday evening that the management of the GES held a virtual meeting with heads of SHSs earlier in the day to discuss the need for the double track for Form One students.
The Daily Graphic learnt that the GES would communicate its intention to stakeholders today.
One of the sources explained that in planning for the academic year, the management did not anticipate the second wave of COVID-19.
It said the current situation urgently required that the students observe the social distancing protocol.
“And so, without the double track it will be difficult to observe such a protocol,” the sources said.
Further explaining the development, they said the decision would help minimize the spread of the virus.
Another source stated that the decision was taken after consultations among the Ministry of Education, the GES, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the National COVID-19 Team.
Again, it said, most of the schools to be affected were those that were selected by a large number of BECE candidates.
“So, bringing the system to a limited number of schools will ensure that more students will benefit from SHS education in those schools,” the source said.
Under the new academic calendar for SHSs, all first-year students, irrespective of the track, will be required to report to their schools between March 18 and 20 for registration and for academic work to begin for all of them on March 22, 2021.
Checks by Graphic Online indicate that schools will be granted the free hand to categorize their students under the Green and the Gold tracks.
The source explained that the schools had their own way of categorizing their students and would, therefore, be allowed to do so themselves.
“For instance, some schools put all students offering General Science and Business together in one track and the rest in the other track,” it explained, adding that the schools would then be required to furnish the GES management with the lists.
Those in the Green Track and Single Track will be in school from March 22 until June 25, 2021 and be on vacation from June 26 to August 31 to end the first semester.
The second semester for the Green and Single Track will begin from September 1 to December 18, 2021, while those in the Gold Track will begin their first semester from March 22 until May 28, 2021.
According to the timetable, those in the Gold Track would resume for the second semester from June 30 to September 15, 2021 and go on vacation from September 16 to October 22, before completing the second semester from October 23 till December 18, 2021.
Explaining the new timetable, one of the sources said it had been designed in such a way that the number of students in a school at a given time would not pose any congestion or risk.
The source explained that currently, final-year students were home and so there would be enough space until the end of this month when they would report to school, by which time second-year Green Track students would have also vacated.
It gave an assurance that running double track in those schools would not affect the contact hours in any way, explaining that such issues had been anticipated.