Kenya could be rolling out a test run as it explores avenues to commence phased reopening of schools. This is after the 31, August, 2020, move by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha to okay face-to-face resumption of learning and examination to final year medical students.
Prof Magoha attributed the decision to the need to add more medical personnel to the hospitals that have so far been strained by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the circular sent to nine universities, the CS said he was acting in strict adherence to the academic calendar which requires that medical students must be examined and cleared as soon as possible.
“In light of the Covid-19 situation which has precipitated an urgent need to train and assess medical students to support the dearth in adequate healthcare personnel to fight the pandemic, consideration has been given to the request for face-to-face learning and assessment of medical students. This is further informed by a physical inspection of facilities to ascertain the level of preparedness for resumption of face-to-face learning,” the circular partially read.
Magoha has emphasised the resumption of face to face learning will have to strictly adhere with the Covid-19 safety rules that have been prescribed by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Some of the conditions given include: That the students must be properly trained on the ‘donning and doffing of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) gear. That they must be properly dressed in their PPEs when rotating in the hospitals and the number of students must be limited to ensure conformity with the required social distancing. That all the other personal hygiene mechanisms must be put in place.
Magoha also tasked the universities with the responsibility of carefully managing any cases of infection amongst the learners in accordance with health guidelines.
“The University must manage any suspected Covid-19 cases affecting their students in their isolation and quarantine facilities awaiting results. The decision of home-based care or hospital management must be in accordance with Ministry of Health guidelines and protocols,” he noted.
At the tail end of the demands is a warning to the institutions for possible closure should one of them fail to implement these requirements.
The CS made the decision in honor of the pleas by Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council. The KMPDU council wrote to the education ministry and copied various deans of school of medicine and dentistry urging persuading them to prepare for clinical examinations of final year medical students.
In the letter dated August 21, 2020, the KMPDU CEO Daniel Yumbya expressed how he was impressed by how the learners made progress in their online studies adding that time was ripe for the administration of the examination. To this effect, he called on institutions to press the preparation button.
“In light of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and subsequent measures that have been put in place to limit the spread of the virus, among them being the closure of universities, the council has hereby considered the issue of final year students undertaking their clinical exams in readiness for internship training placement thereafter,” said Yumbya.
He reiterated Prof Magoha’s gospel that health guidelines have to be followed.
“The deans must ensure that the Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health (MoH) are strictly adhered to during the examination period,” Yumbya said.