Kenya: Back to Class for Varsity, College Students in Cautious Reopening

6 October 2020

Universities and colleges started phased reopening on Monday, with some ill-prepared to adhere to the Ministry of Health guidelines for the prevention of Covid-19.

Senior Ministry of Education officials led by the CS George Magoha monitored the event. The CS was in Nyeri County while Vocational and Technical Training Principal Secretary Julius Jwan toured institutions in the North Rift.

"From our assessment, most of the institutions have made all the requirements, which points to good progress towards complete re-opening of schools. What remains is for them to engage learners on what is required of them to ensure their safety in school," said Dr Jwan at Eldoret National Polytechnic.

The University of Eldoret postponed the opening of the final year students until next Monday. Virtual learning for the 3,000 first year students started last week. Moi University recalled its staff to work on Monday.

However, confusion marred the reporting of students after it emerged that only the School of Agriculture had finalists in session by the time learning was suspended and others are now waiting for more communication.

Washing hands

At Kibabii University in Bungoma County, Chancellor Ipar Odeo said the university had set up water points for washing hands and had ensured social distancing will be observed.

At Sang'alo Agricultural Training College and Matili Technical Training Institute, very minimal measures have been put in place for learning to resume.

In Baringo County, Baringo Moi Teachers College in Seretunin and Baringo Technical College are all set.

Turkana University College deputy principal in charge of administration, planning and finance, Stephen Odebero, said there are enough thermometer guns and an isolation centre.

In Trans Nzoia, Kitale National Polytechnic Principal Fanuel Onyango confirmed that 255 candidates who had missed theory papers in July reported yesterday.

In Nandi County, University of Eastern Africa, Baraton, vice chancellor Phillip Maiyo said the university expects about 1,000 new students on Wednesday.

At Kaiboi Technical Institute, Principal Charles Koech said 250 students who were supposed to sit for exams in March reported back yesterday.

In Nyeri County, more than 2,000 final year students at Karatina University were writing their examinations. At Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, final year students reported back yesterday with several groups sitting the examinations.

Final year students

In Tharaka-Nithi County, final year students at Chuka University and Tharaka University College started reporting back yesterday. In Meru County, the Meru University of Science and Technology also opened its doors to final year students. But final year students from Kirinyaga University did not report back to the institution as they have completed their studies. In Nakuru County, students at Egerton University's Njoro Campus will report back next week.

At Kabarak University, only fourth year students who are doing their final exams reported back while final year students at Maasai Mara University went on with their studies yesterday after the lecture halls were fumigated.

In Coast region, Pwani University students will come back in phases according to academic registrar Nicholas Malau, beginning this week with the School of Health, Human Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences.

Education Chief Administrative Secretary Mumina Bonaya lauded Pwani University and Shanzu Teachers Training College in Kilifi for having fulfilled most of the requirements for resumption.

"Pwani has done excellent, they are ready and we are happy. But for Shanzu we have told the principal to do a few things and he will work on it before students resume tomorrow. We are having nationwide resumption of higher education learning and this is done in a logical way where we expect those who are in the final year and those who have got courses that are science based or practical's to resume first," she said.

At the Technical University of Mombasa, final year students reported just to sit their examinations.

The VC, Prof Laila Abubakar, said the 300-bed capacity Mombasa County Covid-19 isolation centre, which the institution hosted, has been shut down and is being fumigated. Taita Taveta University expects more than 1,000 final year students today.

Cleared for reopening

"Ministry of Education together with Ministry of Health officials have inspected our institution to ensure compliance and we have been cleared for reopening," said a dean who cannot be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

At the Coast Institute of Technology, the principal, Patrick King'oina, said more than 210 candidates who will sit their examinations in March next year are expected to resume learning this week.

"We are expecting a team from the ministries of Education and Health to inspect the institution. We have, however, complied with all regulations," he said.

Reporting by Florah Koech, Gerald Bwisa, Brian Ojamaa, Tom Matoke, Onyango K'Onyango Sammy Lutta, Stanley Kimuge, Barnabas Bii, Reginah Kinogu, George Munene, Alex Njeru, Gitonga Marete, Mwangi Muiruri, Francis Mureithi, George Sayagie, Winnie Atieno, Lucy Mkanyika and Wycliff Kipsang

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