A rise in the number of covid-19 cases across Kenya has cast doubt on the readiness of the education system to open on Monday. Parents and teacher representatives across the country are urging maximum caution.
About 2.8 million students in Grade 4, KCPE, and KCSE candidates reported back on October 12. The rest of the student body are to be recalled after two weeks subject to the consistent reduction in infections reported countrywide. This number would be used as a yardstick to test the viability of a full resumption of the school calendar.
Unfortunately, the schedule might be interrupted after the Ministry of Health raised an alarm on the rising number of cases countrywide. Covid-19 patients have tripled from the lows of 4% to a 12% high according to public figures. It was the earlier low number that inspired the reopening of schools.
There are rising cases of covid-19 infections reported among students and teachers. For instance, learning in two secondary schools in Mombasa was halted after 15 teachers tested positive for Covid-19. Gilbert Kitiyo, the Mombasa Country Commissioner revealed the schools as Tononoka High (11 cases) and Mama Ngina High (4 cases). The government has also issued a caveat on the reporting of Covid-19 cases in public schools, where experts worry it might conceal the true picture of the real situation in learning institutions.
During one of his regular pressers, cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe hinted at the tightening of containment measures to reverse the current trend.
Officials at the Ministry of Education also blamed their Health counterparts for the failure in guidance on the fate of their learners. Meanwhile, parents and headteacher associations are warning against a rushed reopening of the economy in the wake of a rise in infections.
Teachers were earlier on instructed to report early to school and prepare for the safe return of their students. However, the Ministry of Education is yet to provide clear instructions on when to return to in-person teaching or learning.
Back in May, the Education Cabinet Secretary picked a 10-member task force run by Sarah Ruto that purposefully crafted a plan on the reopening of learning institutions countrywide as per the Covid-19 requirements. The task force report submitted to the cabinet and the president suggested the adoption of a phased reopening approach.
The country’s acting director of health Patrick Amoth revealed that the ministry would carry out random testings in schools. He further revealed that special attention would be given to staff, teachers, and students suffering from pre-existing conditions.
There is some concern that the gradual reopening of schools across Kenya might be halted as the country has witnessed a spike in the number of infections attributed to a relaxation of preventative habits and measures.
In his Twitter interactions, Dr. Amoth described the school reopening situation as delicate indicating how policymakers were looking at a lost generation out of school. He also cited other ills such as teenage pregnancies, sexual and GBV, anxiety, suicide, and depression. All these were considered alongside the pandemic. He cited the scientific evidence that this lower age group was the least subject to attack from the virus. Nevertheless, the experts would remain vigilant in studying the facts.
1/3 The decision to reopen schools in phases was a delicate choice based on surveillance which will continue while schools are open. We have given special attention to teachers, students and staff with pre-existing conditions to avoid infection within the schools. #AskTheDG https://t.co/Nin7Eu9bis
— Dr. Patrick Amoth (@DrPatrickAmoth) October 14, 2020
Source: The Star
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