ACCRA, Ghana — Ghana’s bishop in charge of education said although finals exams are important, West African governments should suspend exams because of COVID-19.

Three weeks after final-year students of junior and senior high schools in Ghana returned to school to prepare for exit exams, there are reports of COVID-19 infections in some in western Ghana. As of July 15, some Catholic schools in Ghana had recorded one or more confirmed cases of COVID-19, and parents expressed fears despite the assurance that safety measures were in place.

“We are caught between two waters,” said Archbishop John Bonaventure Kwofie, noting that students to not want to be in school with the coronavirus, but they also need to prepare for exit exams. “I think this is an occasion for our leaders to do something more radical, more foundational.”

“What do I mean? … Can’t we come together and say that look, because of COVID-19, we have postponed the examination until further notice? So that we do not subject our children to go to school to prepare for the examination,” he stated.

He said this would involve more than just Ghana.

“The decision must be foundational and radical because the COVID is not just in Ghana,” he said, adding that “the suspension of the 2020 West African Secondary School Certificate Examination and the Basic Education Certificate Examination will prevent the further spread of the virus, particularly among students.”

Father Eric Kwasi Elliason, director of health for the Diocese of Sekondi-Takoradi, said: “The communal nature of facilities in our schools such as dormitories, dining hall, classrooms do not make it advisable to have many of our students in school at the same time. Risky student behavior makes the likelihood of increment a must.”

In a July 13 statement, the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations asked Ghana to send all school students waiting to take their final examinations home.

“In the current circumstances, the children are psychologically unstable and would, therefore, not be of sound mind to write the WASSCE and BECE examinations and come out successfully,” the statement said. “We, therefore, suggest that these examinations be postponed till the situation is brought under control.”

One parent noted that Nigeria had delayed the reopening of schools for exams.

However, the Ghana Education Service said it would conduct exams.