Nairobi — Schools in Kenya will not re-open until 2021 due to fears of COVID-19 infections which has started taking toll in the country.
Education Cabinet Secretary Professor George Magoha said it will not be practical and safe to re-open schools because the peak period for the virus infections is just starting.
He said this academic year is lost, meaning all learners will be required to repeat their current classes when schools re-open next year. He did not provide the exact dates.
Consequently, he said, national examinations for primary and secondary schools will not be done this year.
“Schools will re-open next year that is when KCPE and KCSE examinations will be done,” Magoha said.
Schools in Kenya were ordered closed on March 15, by President Uhuru Kenyatta soon after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country.
“Schools will re-open next year that is when KCPE and KCSE examinations will be done,” Magoha said, “but if the situation improves, things will change.”
Magoha said he had consulted with the Ministry of Health and agreed on reducing physical contact in learning institutions by having fewer learners, were schools to re-open once the curve flattens. COVID-19 cases had surged to 8,07 by July 7.
“Based on this disturbing trend, stakeholders have shelved an initial proposal to reopen basic education learning institutions,” the CS said.
He said the Ministry will explore several ways that will ensure school going children are engaged while at home, signalling the continuation of online learning that is going on in several schools, mainly private institutions.
Universities were also allowed to re-open subject to meeting COVID-19 protocols but training colleges and Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions will re-open in September, after meeting “stringent guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health.”
“Reopening of universities for face-to-face sessions will be on a case-by-case basis based on approved compliance with the Ministry of Health COVID-19 protocols,” the CS said.
“Universities should continue holding virtual learning and graduations for students who have successfully completed their programmes and met graduation requirements set by their respective Senates. Universities should consider phased reopening to achieve physical and social distancing, especially in halls of residence, lecture rooms and dining halls,” he said and warned that institutions that will flout the COVID-19 containment measures will be closed.
The schools were closed in March 15, after the first case of coronavirus was reported in the country.
“All the decisions that we have made with stakeholders regarding reopening of learning institutions may change as informed by reports from the Ministry of Health, prevailing circumstances and increased knowledge of the COVID-19,” he explained.