Schools reopen in Kenya after nine months

Millions of pupils across Kenya reported to schools for the first time after a nine-month closure to curb the spread of Covid-19.

All learners were subjected to temperature checks ad required to use hand sanitizer before entering class. Kenyan authorities expressed confidence in the safety of the teachers and pupils. 

There was some backlash when the education cabinet secretary George Magoha suggested that schools employ creative ways of preventing overcrowding in classrooms such as learning under trees. Many felt the comments were quite cavalier given the resource constraints often facing public schools which are often overcrowded. 

Students in their final year reported to school in October last year, while those in other grades will have to repeat the 2020 academic year. 

Also read: Details on the phased school reopening schedule in Kenya

Kenya has recorded about 97,000 cases of Covid-19 - with over 1600 deaths since the outbreak began in March. Many in Kenya still feel that the pandemic is far from being contained, a situation that leaves parents and teachers exposed to infection. Schools shut in mid-March almost killing 1,700 people across the country. 

Overall, 16 million students will be reporting to school nationwide. Despite the optimism shared by the government thousands of learners failed to report in time prompting worries of a massive school drop-out rate. Other parents have not taken their students to school fearing worries of job losses and business failure. 

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Prior to school reopenings, Kenya extended the nighttime curfew in an effort to tame the spread of the virus. This announcement was made by Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi who was tasked with implementing a presidential Executive Order. Current restriction measures will remain in effect until March 12. 

Among the measures was the continued closure of bars at 9pm, as per the presidential order of November 4 when he revised the night curfew from 10 pm to 4 am. 

As schools reopen, there will be no extracurricular activities for three months whether sports, drama, music, or prize-giving days. Government meetings were to be held virtually to protect public servants and those visiting public offices.

ph: Billy Miaron /