After a six month's hiatus, schools will be teeming with learners once again beginning today. Class Four, Class Eight and Form Four students will resume studies under the phased reopening of schools put in place by the Education ministry.
University and college students have already resumed learning. Notably, while a good number of students are excited to return to school after months of boredom at home, others are anxious because the dark cloud of Covid-19 still hovers over our heads.
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Covid 19 Time Series
In fact, the reopening comes at a time cases of Covid-19 are on an upswing after weeks of lull, which had seen the number of daily confirmed cases falling from highs of 800 to even under 100.
Up to 388 cases were reported yesterday, and 500 the day before. This is not a good sign, considering that the reopening was pegged on the decline in number of cases.
However, the surge in infections is not surprising, as majority Kenyans, led by political leaders, have already dropped their guards. Wearing of masks, washing/sanitising of hands and maintaining of social distance are now almost forgotten. As a result, the number of cases could be much higher in the coming weeks.
Everything should be done to ensure the recklessness that has pervaded the public sphere does not creep into schools. We must keep Covid-19 out of schools.
Unfortunately, that is still a tall order, as most schools are yet to put in place the safety measures recommended by the Health ministry. But it would be harsh to blame schools because the government released funds to help the institutions make adequate preparations only last week.
With the decision to reopen already made, school administrators need to work around the clock to ensure their institutions meet the basic safety requirements to admit students.
We cannot afford to fail. Three classes that will resume today will determine whether the rest will go back to school any time soon. If a big number of learners gets infected, like has happened in some countries, the government might be forced to shelve the reopening and put its act together.
If there are no incidents, the real test will come when all the students return to school. Ordinarily, most schools have huge numbers of students and classes are usually crowded. This will make implementing Covid-19 measures such as social distancing difficult. For that reason, the government must start making serious preparations for readmission of all students now. We cannot afford to put our children in environments that will put their health at risk.