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School Calendar: State urged to plan with projected July Covid-19 peak

EDUCATION
By Augustine Oduor | May 24th 2021
Student waiting to board a vehicle to school. 10 May 2021. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

Concern is growing about the school calendar, with reports that the Covid-19 fourth peak could be experienced in July.

The Ministry of Health has cautioned that virus infections may peak in the seventh month, raising anxiety in the education sector.

Acting Director of Health Patrick Amoth said the virus’ patterns of infections from March 2020 to March 2021 provided a hint on the next peak.

“Our analysis shows we had a peak in July and after three months we had another in November. We can categorically state that if this trend continues, our next peak should be in July,” said Dr Amoth.

According to the revised school term dates, the present third term for Pre-Primary I and II, Grade One to Three, Standard Five to Seven and Form One to Three learners ends on July 16.

The learners will take one week’s break between July 17 and 25. Presently, Grade Four pupils and those who sat the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examination in 2020 are still at home waiting for the present learners to complete third term.

All the learners will open schools for Term One under the 2021 academic year starting July 26. The 10 weeks term will end on October 10.

Parents and school heads said July, when the virus is projected to peak, will be marked with heightened movement of students. “We should not wait for the peak. Put all plans in place before that time so that we do not have maximum impact,” said Nicholas Maiyo, the National Parents Association chairman.

Mr Maiyo said some of the lock-down measures should be implemented gradually to secure the future of children. “We particularly take issue with bars because they are the super-spreaders, and the sooner stricter operation rules are implemented, the better,” said Maiyo.

The management of private schools said schools were safe and cautioned that infections were likely to come from home.

“We have advised our members to regularly communicate with their parents on need to abide by the protocols at home so that infections do not come to schools,” said Mutheu Kasanga, Private Schools Association chairperson.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) National Chairman Kahi Indimuli said there would be a lot of movements in July as third term would be ending and another starting. “We shall have children going home for break and at the same time have all the children even those who had been home reporting for start of term one and this needs proper planning,” said Mr Indimuli.

He said part of this must include released of the Sh13 billion capitation to schools to enable them plan to receive the children. “Schools will need the money to plan again to receive the children. We need to ensure the protocols are implemented and this will require adequate resources,” said Indimuli. He, however, said learning should continue, but cautioned: “We have seen that children are not affected. It is teachers and support staff who are prone to infections and they must be vaccinated.”

Ministry of Health data shows that by May 19, some 148,353 teachers had been vaccinated.

There are some 330,671 teachers working in public schools and 158,000 in private institutions.

Primary School Heads Association national chairman Johnson Nzioka said schools should not be shut due to surge in Covid-19 infections. He urged the government to start planning.

“We have seen that children are not affected. Teachers Service Commission (TSC) needs to push for mass vaccinations for us to achieve herd immunisation,” said Nzioka.

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