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Curfew extended as school resumes tomorrow

By Judah Ben-Hur | January 3rd 2021 at 15:16:45 GMT +0300

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha addresses the media during a media briefing by the multi-agency team led by Cabinet Secretary for education briefing on reopening of schools at the KICC, Nairobi on 3d January 2021. [David Gichuru, Standard]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has extended the nationwide nighttime curfew, saying it will guarantee the safety of learners as schools reopen tomorrow -- some 10 months after closure due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The restriction on movement between 10:00pm to 4:00am will be extended to March 12, 2021, Uhuru said in an Executive Order on Sunday. 

The order also extended other virus containment measures. 

Public events and gatherings which may act as ‘super spreader’ events for the virus, including political and roadside gatherings or meetings will remain suspended for the next 60 days.

However, funerals or burials and weddings, which shall be conducted with prior approval and with the number of persons being capped at a maximum of 150 persons will be given the green light, the president added. 

"Whereas the general directions governing religious gatherings shall remain unchanged, any indoor religious gathering other than for the purpose of a wedding or funeral, shall be conducted in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Inter-Faith Council and with all other applicable Ministry of Health guidelines and protocols remaining in force," the Executive Order read. 

The guidelines are a culmination of deliberations between stakeholders in the Ministry of Health (MoH), Council of Governor (CoG), the National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus and others to guarantee a safe return to school. 

From left Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Security Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Okengo Matiang'i and Education Cabinet secretary George Magoha. [David Gichuru,Standard]

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha held that despite the challenges posed by the virus, students must report to school. 

"Even though social distance will remain a challenge, it will not stop schools from reopening," said Prof Magoha.
He told urged parents to buy at least two reusable masks for their children as the State will issue only masks to three million needy students. 

"For those 3 million children who will require masks and including those in PP1 and PP2 that cannot afford masks, masks shall be made available to them," said Magoha.

As per the Executive Order, all learners and teachers will be required to wear appropriate facemasks when on the school premises or within school transport. 

This is in addition to strictly applying hand-hygiene and physical spacing. CS Magoha said achieving the requisite social distance will be a tall order and hopes of keeping the virus at bay lie with proper use of face masks. 

"All extra-curricular activities such as sports, drama, music and prize-giving days, involving more than one school remain prohibited for the next 90 days; and all exchange visits between schools shall remain prohibited for the same period," the Executive Order said. 

Nonetheless, all non-essential visits to schools by parents and guardians have been prohibited and will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

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Teachers and staff who are 58-years-old and above or those with pre-existing health issues have been advised to work remotely or execute their duties in open space.

In October last year, Prof Magoha directed school heads not to send home students due to lack of school fees. Today, the CS has reiterated the stand but has asked parents not to take advantage of the directive at the expense of poor learners.  

Prof Magoha also hinted at the possibility of the government supporting students who might not be able to raise fees as schools are set to reopen tomorrow.

''I want to urge the teachers to be vigilant so that they are able to identify the children that are thoroughly indigent, poor and cannot afford school fees and they must be allowed to stay in school as we look for scholarships or arrange to pay scholarships for them,'' he said. 

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