Kenya: Reopening Schools Remains in Limbo Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The Ministry of Education has once again cast uncertainty over the resumption of classes in the country.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said Kenya must flatten the Covid-19 pandemic curve before a decision is made.

Speaking during a consultative meeting with officials of trade unions in Education at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development on Wednesday, Prof Magoha said the ministry will not risk the health of school children.

"The position of parents has been that we don't open until the curve is flattened," Prof Magoha said.

The CS also said a meeting with the Council of Governors suggested that schools should not be reopened until the curve is flattened.

"On July 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta will make an official announcement on when schools are likely to open," Prof Magoha added.

Officials of the Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu), Kenya Women Teachers Association (Kewota), Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association (Kessha) and Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) were present during the meeting.

The debate on when schools will reopen has been going on since June. Prof Magoha said last month that the national exams are likely to be done early next year.

President Kenyatta had directed the ministry to start preparing for schools to reopen in September.

Prof Magoha said schools will be supplied with 24 million face masks for students.

Each learner will be given two reusable masks when schools open, the CS said.

Hr also said that water tanks will be installed in all schools so that students can wash their hands regularly.

He however pointed out that social distancing might be a challenge in schools but assured Kenyans that all measure are being put in place ahead of the schools reopening.

The Covid-19 Education Response Committee, which is chaired by Dr Sarah Ruto, has already made recommendations to the CS to allow smooth reopening of schools.

The Kenya Secondary Students Council has asked the government to ensure all safety measures against the new coronavirus virus are put in place before a decision to reopen schools is made.

The national organising secretary Charles Opondo said the government must ensure social distancing rule in schools is adhered to and ensure enough supply of water for students.

"As students, we want to be assured of our health safety in schools to prevent learners from contracting the virus while in schools," said Opondo.

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