The Education Ministry has indicated it will close down Kumasi Academy in the Ashanti region after an outbreak of a strange disease left four students dead and over 18 others hospitalised within a week.
Deputy Minister of Education in charge of Secondary and Vocational education, Dr. Osei Yaw Adutwum was emphatic that “we are going to close down the school. It’s going to happen but we want to protect them [students] first before we do.”
A medication programme on Wednesday has covered over 1,000 students in a 3-dose antibiotic to deal with the suspected bacterial infection.
Regional Health Director, Dr Emmanuel Tenkorang says the 19 students hospitalised have been responding to treatment after they were treated with Azithromycin, a broad spectrum antibiotic.
Panic and pandemonium broke out after parents besieged the school Tuesday to demand the release of their wards.
Health Minister, Kwaku Agyemang Manu who was summoned to answer questions in parliament said the Ministry does not recommend the closure of the school.
Health officials explained that releasing students back into communities could lead to a much larger outbreak of the strange disease.
But the deputy Education Minister after a closed-door meeting with the Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah and health officials said a closure is imminent.
He could not tell exactly when the school would be closed down. The Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, however, explained the closure will help further investigations into the mysterious disease.
Photo: Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah speaking to the media
“The investigation is going to be long. It is not going to be so simple. They are going to look at all the dormitories and classrooms, they would examine the kitchen, dining hall; they would examine the water that they take in the school. They would scan the whole environment and even beyond the walls of the school.“.
“It would be extremely difficult to give a specific date when they can return after the school is closed.”
The Deputy Education Minister, however, wants parents who have taken their wards home without taking the antibiotic to return for treatment.
“If you’ve taken your child home, bring the child back to begin the drug administration,” he said.
Health officials have been struggling to diagnose the condition which broke out in April, killing 11 students and hospitalising more than 40 others.
Two of the latest deaths were recorded a day before the school’s 60th anniversary which was graced by President Akufo-Addo on December 3, 2017.
But reports of the deaths did not feature in official speeches, not in the headmaster’s address.
Some parents have criticised school authorities for what they say is poor handling of the issue. The acting Registrar of Kumasi Technical University, Abraham Adjei Annang, accused authorities of not being transparent.