Only two varsities have met Covid-19 class rules

Only two private universities have complied with the Covid-19 protocols to allow opening.

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha (pictured) said Strathmore University and Mount Kenya University (MKU) have instituted necessary changes, re-engineered their physical spaces and adopted blended teaching to allow resumption of learning.

Magoha hailed the two universities for initiating successful online classes and scheduling virtual graduation ceremonies.

The CS noted that the institutions have put in place mechanisms to allow social distancing, multiple hand washing and sanitisation points, enhanced screening and decongested open spaces.

Speaking after inspecting MKU, Magoha said: “I am impressed by the level of preparedness I have witnessed here including these automatic sanitiser dispensers, provision of tanks for washing of hands and good classrooms spacing. This is very encouraging.”

Strathmore University has halved the number of students per class, changed the sitting arrangement and pushed most courses online with only a few classes scheduled for physical teaching.

Alternating programme

Academic Director MBA programme and Director of the Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness at the university, Fredrick Ogola, said a class of 50 will only have 25 students.

The university has scheduled alternating programme for breaks and meals at the mess to ensure social distancing.

“Only essential lessons that will require physical meetings will be done in classes. And even in classes, sitting arrangements have been changed to the required social distancing,” said Dr Ogola.

MKU has moved teaching of humanities, business and economics and Bachelor of Education Arts Programmes online.

“The university is committed to sustaining support of the students in these programmes in this manner until normalcy resumes,” reads the university Covid-19 reopening strategy.

The document says only science courses that will require practical and laboratory teaching and examinations will be conducted.

“To avoid crowding within the university facilities such as libraries, MKU has enhanced Wi-Fi at the study villas for students to use in their private studies,” reads the document.

The document further states that the sitting arrangement has been changed to comply with the 1.5 metres social distancing in classrooms, and science and computer laboratories.

“Overall, we shall use blended mode of learning to reduce class sizes and promote social distancing,” the document reads in part.

The university management said after the suspension of face-to-face teaching in March, students were migrated to the Open Distance and Electronic Learning platform.

“The university has strengthened the online systems and students were able to complete the January-April 2020 trimester/semester. Learning for the May-August 2020 trimester/semester is ongoing.”

At MKU, hostels capacity has been adjusted to comply with 1.5 metres social distancing.

“Rooms that originally accommodated four to six students will only accommodate two students.”

Entry protocols

At Strathmore University, students will be required to learn remotely if they are at high risk of contracting Covid-19, are sick, or may be taking care of someone.

While at the university, students will be responsible for cleaning their classroom seats with provided disinfectant wipes. University cleaning staff will be required to wear uniforms complete with PPE.

The cleaners will ensure that all the windows and doors in rooms are open for aeration and bins emptied.

The staff will also avail four clean dusters, cleaning agents, buckets and clean mops in the rooms. All offices and lecture theatres will be cleaned using disinfectant/all-purpose soap and surfaces sanitised.

There will be no unnecessary gathering in classrooms, lounges, common areas and other spaces.

Signages clearly marking the recommended number of people and distance permitted in each space have been erected in classrooms, offices, library, cafeterias and other common areas.

The details are contained in the Strathmore University Reopening Preparedness Amidst Covid-19 Pandemic.

The document reveals that entry protocols for students, staff and visitors have been enhanced with nurses hired to conduct screening.

“The staff at the screening points will be medical staff – preferably nurses who will be there at the required time,” reads document.

And in each of the screening points, there will be a tent, table, chair ?and appropriate personal protective gear – gown, N95 mask, cape, eye protection, shoe covers and gloves for staff.

The report says that persons accessing the university will be required to wear a mask.

Three-ply medical masks will be on sale at entry points for those who will lack one.

At each entry point, there will also be data collection, which will capture name, age, gender, residence, telephone number, destination within Strathmore and purpose of the visit.

“Any person who from the screening will meet the set Covid-19 case definition will not to access the premises.”

On students transport, the university will increase the frequency to reduce congestion.

“Cleaning of the vehicles is done daily, paying attention to frequent cleaning of high touch areas such as door handles and handrails,” reads the document.