Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has announced a possibility of the gradual reopening of schools beginning November 2020. However, the CS has maintained that any decision that will be undertaken to reopen learning institutions will have to be guided by the coronavirus infection data from the Ministry of Education.
“About 50 per cent of the institutions are on a trajectory towards reopening. What has annoyed me is that this is the sixth week, yet we have to keep on saying the same things over and over. Once we are ready we will allow the students to sit their exams,” the CS told the media.
Initially, the country was geared towards phased reopening of tertiary learning institutions such as technical colleges by September. As it is, and according to CS Magoha, various tertiary learning institutions are yet to comply fully with the requirements that will enforce health safety protocols in the institutions.
“A sizable number of institutions are not ready. The only two that are absolutely ready are somewhere in the rift valley but we want them all to be ready. I hope the other principals will follow the recommendations I have given here,” he told the press during a visit to Meru National Polytechnic.
What pushed the government to open up the tertiary colleges is the nature of their curricula which the CS said required more than virtual learning.
He said: “As much as we encourage virtual learning, it is of paramount importance in technical institutions to deliver the content practically to skill them unlike in universities.”
But there is a snag. Prof Magoha, who has been touring colleges mobilisihg for the preparations said that there is a huge gap because only few institutions had complied with the measures.
“Institutions must ensure no one enters any facility without having sanitised. This is why sufficient water points have to be put up. There should be someone to ensure social distance is observed in the dining halls and if that is not possible, the table arrangement must be changed.”
The November period targeted for gradual reopening could present the government with a way of ensuring that Class Eight and Form Four candidates are prepared for the examinations.
Already, there is ongoing training exercise targeting the regional, county and sub-county education directors the government hopes to use in helping to reopen schools. Mombasa and Garissa counties have already conducted their training virtually and Western Kenya and Nyanza are expected to do the same on Monday, September 7, virtually.
Some of the bare minimums the ministry will expect the schools to meet entail having plenty running water, sanitising booths, first aids, thermometer, face masks and working on social distancing. Co-curricula activities such as sports or Pes will be suspended. Learners will be expected to assemble only for prayers and announcements on following health safety protocols.
Prof Magoha said the final decision could depend on the country’s infection rate percentage, which is World Health Organisation (WHO) would only be safer if it is below 5 per cent of samples.