The Madudu Church of Uganda Primary School is eerily quiet following an outbreak of Ebola which is keeping children away.
The subcounty in Mubende District iis the epicentre of a recently announced outbreak of the disease.
There have already been several deaths and parents are keeping their children at home rather than take any risks.
Robert Kasirye is the deputy headteacher at Mubende Church of Uganda Primary School and says the impact on student numbers has been huge.
“The school enrolment is 692 pupils, now we have only 16. It is due to Ebola. Parents fear their pupils to be affected by this, we can say it is a pandemic disease.”
Even some teachers are opting to stay home in fear of catching the virus, which appears to be spreading. That is despite government advice for schools to stay open.
David Ssali is a teacher at Madudu CoU Primary School and says: “We have sensitised them and showed them some of the materials, which were available to us but still they have that fear because of seeing the way children and other old people are dying.”
But there are concerns students in Madudu will be at a disadvantage compared to other parts of the country as they miss classes and even exams.
The Uganda National Examinations Board, the body mandated to set exams for all schools in the country, recently released its examination roadmap for 2022.
Rosemary Byabashaija, head of Mubende District Ebola Task Force, is keen to ensure children do not miss out on their education.
“The curriculum in the entire country is one; the other schools are going on,” she says. “This is the last term in the year. They will all sit for their exams, they will not say Mubende will sit another time they are going to sit at the same time.
“So, I would propose and appeal to our teachers and leaders to see that we just need to step up the measures of, seeing that people are not getting in direct contact with each other, but the classes and schools should continue.”
Authorities are encouraging schools to put extra measures in place to reassure parents.
The latest outbreak of Ebola was announced on 20 September. Since then, there have been over 35 positive cases, with many unaccounted for deaths.