After week-long delay, the new school year in Egypt started yesterday against the background of a co-ordinated plan between the Ministries of Education and Health that incorporates necessary hygienic and preventive measures to curb the spread of A/H1N1.
Instructions have been given to schools to clean bathrooms, to provide adequate quantities of disinfectants and to allocate rooms for the isolation of cases suspected of being infected with the virus. According to official statements “every” governmental school is supplied with advanced temperature-measuring devices. Knowing how things proceed in this country, it is not expected that all schools across the country have access to the device.Anyhow, other arrangements are said to have been made to reduce class density and avoid large student gatherings in activities.The scheme as such appears to be tight. But the image on the ground is not usually as perfect as the assumption. It is no secret that rural governmental schools are mostly lacking in their standard of cleanliness, given low budgets, the negligence and poor awareness of students, parents as well as school administrators. Since the plan was introduced a short time before the opening of schools, there is much doubt that the said measures will be strictly observed.The irony is that water is being cut off from some of these rural schools for several days. Over the past few days, the local press has teemed with complaints of parents exposing the actual condition of these schools just a few days before they opened to students.The point then is that officials of the two ministries should not bury their heads in sand giving the impression that everything is going as planned. They have to show transparency and honesty, such, that once conditions turn out not to be under control, schools have to be closed down before it's too late.