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It’s back to school as State unveils reopening schedule

By Augustine Oduor | September 21st 2020 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha at the Meru National Polytechnic on September 4, 2020 during a visit to inspect their level of preparedness for school reopening. [Olivia Murithi, Standard]

Primary and secondary school teachers may be recalled to work this week as the Ministry of Education prepares to reopen learning institutions.

The Standard has established that teachers would be required to report to school early to make arrangements for candidates who would be the first cohort to resume learning next month.

Two to three weeks after candidates return to school, the other learners would be recalled for a crash learning programme that will see second term work covered before end of December.

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Third term would be covered between January and March, with examinations done in April next year.

These are part of the reopening proposals that will be tabled today before the national education stakeholders for consideration.

Overall, the Education Response Committee chaired by Sara Ruto of the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), has recommended that schools and colleges resume classes next month.

If passed, all teachers and non-teaching staff could be back in schools as early as Wednesday to hold meetings and make arrangements for the term.

Head teachers

School Boards of Management meetings will thereafter be convened during which head teachers will table their opening preparation plans, paving the way for the establishment of Covid-19 school response committees.

This period will be used to plan effectively ahead of full reporting of all the learners besides assessing and tying up the loose ends on Covid-19 measures.

Once schools open, teachers will be given instructions to complete remaining class work ahead of administration of national examinations in April next year. To achieve this, teachers will be expected to create ample time within the learning days to cover the syllabus.

During the planning period, teachers and members of the institutions management boards will be taken through the Covid-19 guidelines.

The team proposes that provision of clean running water, liquid soap, placing of hand washing facilities, sanitisers and disinfectants in strategic places be done a week before schools open. Face masks for each learner and thermo guns will also be provided a week before schools open.

The Covid-19 response committees will be responsible for the strict adherence to the health protocols such as correct use of face masks, sanitising, hand washing and keeping safe social distance when learning starts.

On or before October 2, the task force proposes coronavirus awareness creation targeting all education officials, school head and boards of management. This will be done by Ministry of Education staff in collaboration with officials from Health and Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

The same awareness will be extended to teachers, non teaching staff, school community members like parents and guardians, caregivers, sponsors and chaplains. And during the first two days of opening, the task force proposes that the awareness be done for all learners. This will be done by the institutions response committees.

Mental health

Immediately after reopening, the team proposes the institutions response committees roll out mental health and psychosocial programmes for all learners and staff. Schools will be required to create linkages with health facilities. This will be championed by the sub-county response committees.

The team proposes that all schools identify a room for temporary isolation. Also critical during the opening period is the establishment of policies and processes for management of the disease in schools.

This will include management of boarding facilities, transport, dining, classrooms, sports and how cleaning and disinfection will be done. TSC, Ministry of Education officials and National Response Committee will track the adherence to the protocols and learning progress in schools. The proposals will be considered by the national education stakeholders meeting today.

Representatives of primary and secondary school heads, universities and middle level colleges, religious leaders, private schools’ managers, parents’ associations, TSC, Ministry of Health and Kenya National Examination Council (Knec) will attend the meeting.

The meeting will endorse or amend part of the proposals as stakeholders’ strike consensus on the best strategies to recover lost time.

The proposals adopted by stakeholders today will be forwarded to the national consultative conference to be chaired by by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe and Fred Matiangi of Interior. During today’s meeting, Kenyans will know the specific opening date and whether learners will attend schools in shifts.

Limited spaces

The report from the task force members revealed that with proper use of face masks enforced by school Covid-19 committees, children will be allowed to sit normally as limited spaces may not allow the one-metre spacing in classrooms. Ministry of Education guidelines require that teachers create physical distance between learners by placing desks at least one metre apart, and one metre apart from all doors to avoid any physical contact or air contamination. If social distancing still presents a challenge in schools, some education sector players have fronted proposals of having students resume classes in phases. Some have also proposed to have learners attend classes in shifts; some learners attending school in the morning and others in the afternoon.

Another suggestion is to have some students attend school for uninterrupted days, with the rest of learners scheduled to report in shifts. There was also another proposal to have classes spread across two or three days of the week, with the first group of learners (possibly candidates) attending school from Monday to Wednesday. The second lot would attend school Thursday and Friday with the shifts reversed the following week.


Ministry of Education Schools reopening
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