CS directive on school reopening welcome, but we must not drop the ball

Cabinet secretary education, George Magoha [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has put paid to rumours that the school calendar would be changed.

His clarification must have come as a big relief since the prospects of having learners stay at home for another long period due to the Covid-19 pandemic were daunting.

It has been an uphill task for both learners and teachers to recover the lost time between March 2020 when the government ordered all learning institutions closed, and January 2021 when schools were opened.

The third and more deadly wave of Covid-19 is the reason for the speculation about a change in the school calendar. This third wave has infected thousands of people and claimed far too many lives.

As a consequence, the government imposed cessation of movement into and out of five most affected counties. These are Nairobi, Nakuru, Kajiado, Kiambu and Machakos.

The indefinite ban and enhanced curfew hours in these counties must have contributed to the fear that next month’s scheduled reopening of schools would be put off.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, coronavirus positivity rate is on a downward spiral, giving hope that the curve is finally being flattened after weeks in which over one thousand people were infected every day.

That is good news indeed, but at 15 per cent positivity rate by the Sunday count, the figures are still higher than the 5 per cent the World Health Organisation said was safe for in-person learning last year.

The government must therefore go the extra mile in ensuring that learners are not unnecessarily exposed to new risks that could endanger their lives when the new term begins next month.

Collectively as Kenyans, we must guard against dropping the ball at this time. We all should continue to religiously observe set protocols in the management of the disease.

It is easier and cheaper to wear a face mask, keep social distance and sanitise than to end up in a hospital where it would be a nightmare finding an ICU bed or oxygen to keep you alive.

It behoves the government to ensure that teachers are vaccinated, schools have adequate supplies of water points, soap and that social distancing in class is observed.

Teachers have a duty to ensure no learner is allowed in school without a face mask. That way, we can keep the Covid-19 positivity rate down to manageable levels.