Coronavirus infections have risen in the past few days casting doubt on Monday's expected full reopening of schools in Kenya. Education stakeholders including parents and teachers have urged caution.
Grade 4, Standard 8 and Form 4 students reported on school on 12th of October this year. The rest of the learners were anticipated to reopen after two weeks, depending on the rate of COVID-19 cases in the country.
At the time of reopening, the infections rate had dropped significantly to less than 5 per cent which the World Health Organisation recommends for school reopening. The plan, however, seems to be jeopardised even as the Ministry of Health is expected to give it green light following the rising percentage of Covid-19 patients.
COVID-19 cases have increased tripled, a situation that could trigger a likely return to lockdown. Coronavirus positivity rate now stands at 12 per cent, up from 4 per cent. The Ministry of Health is yet to approve the plan to reopen schools for all learners.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe hinted at a tightening of containment protocols should the current trend not revers.
According to NATION, blame games have rocked the Ministry of Health with officials blaming their Health counterparts for lack of guidance on the fate of other learners, even as parents’ associations and headteachers warned against a rushed resumption of school.
Education Cabinet Secretary Magoha had mentioned that the rest of learners would be recalled after 2 weeks of candidate's resumption and is expected to issue direction on the full reopening this week.
“The ministry will observe the situation in one or two weeks, then we recall the other children. We shall recall them when the time is right,” Prof Magoha said while inspecting Olympic Primary in Kibra last week.
The Education Taskforce on Covid-19 led by Sara Ruto suggested the partial reopening last week due to a positivity rate of less than 4 per cent for two weeks. It was by this fact that the Ministry of Health and the Education Ministry allowed form 4, Grade 4, and Standard learners to resume learning.
The task force team advised that the rest of learners should reopen after observing the trend for two weeks. It has however been revealed that the taskforce team have not met to review the situation since they made the last recommendations.
“The information from the Ministry of Health is discouraging,” a source from the Ministry of Education said. National Parents Association chair Nicholas Maiyo has threatened to petition the government to shut down schools if learners get infected.
Kenya Private Schools Association Chief Executive Officer Peter Ndoro maintained the Ministry of Health should do more to safeguard the health of school children.
“We are very disappointed by how the Health ministry has been passing information on Covid-19. There is a need for more awareness now that schools have started reopening,” Peter Ndoro said.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESHA) Chairman Kahi Indimuli noted that school administrators are in a dilemma over the school resumption adding that a big loss among form four candidates had been identified by teachers since reporting to school.
“The Ministry of Health will have to come out strongly and advise on the way forward now that the positivity rate is going up,” Mr Indimuli said. He noted that learners need to be protected even at home.
“We would have wished to have all the students back in school but looking at the Covid-19 figures, we have to ask if it will be advisable to reopen. That is the fear we have. On the other hand, the more we keep them at home, the more difficult it will be to bring them up to speed with syllabus expectations,” Mr Indimuli said.