Concern for Schools with COVID-19 Fourth Wave Looming
There are growing concerns over the academic calendar for schools with the fourth wave of COVID-19 expected in July.
The Ministry of Health has warned that new virus infections of the novel global coronavirus pandemic may rise to concerning numbers within the next two months. This has caused worries over the education sector.
Acting Director of Health Dr. Patrick Amoth revealed that the patterns of COVID-19 infections from March 2020 to March 2021 indicate a looming 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 Amoth.
As per the revised school term dates, the present third term for Pre-Primary I & II, Grade One to Three, Standard Five to Seven and Form One to Three will end on the 16th of July.
The learners will have a holiday lasting one week from 17th to 25th of July 2021. However, Grade 4 and candidates who sat for their 2020 KCPE are at home as they wait for the current pupils and students in schools to complete their third term.
On the 26th of July, all learners will be in school for term one of 2021, a term that will come to an end after ten-week on October 10.
Education stakeholders among them parents and school heads have called for proper planning.
“This is the time for the government to plan ahead. 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. Nicholas said that some lockdown measures should be gradually implemented to ensure the future of learners is not in doubt.
“We particularly take issue with bars because they are super-spreaders and the sooner stricter operation rules are implemented, the better for us,” said Mr. Maiyo.
The managers of private schools said that schools are safe and warned that infections could come from the homes of learners.
The Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KESSHA) National Chairman Kahi Indimuli said that in July a lot of movements will happen because one term will 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 have been home reporting for the start of term one and this needs proper planning,” said Mr. Indimuli.
Indimuli said that part of this must include the disbursement of the Sh. 13 billion capitations to schools to assist in planning to receive learners.
“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,” he said.
However, Indimuli said that schools should still be in the session while cautioning that teachers be vaccinated.
The Ministry of Health’s data shows that by the 19th of May, 148,353 teachers got vaccinated.
“We have seen that children are not affected. It is teachers and support staff who are prone to infections and they must be vaccinated,” added Indimuli.
A total of 330,671 teachers are working in public schools while 158,000 are working in private institutions.
Johnson Nzioka, the Primary school heads Association national chairman, said that schools should not be closed because of a surge in COVID-19 infections. He implored the government to plan adequately.
“The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) needs to push for mass vaccinations for us to achieve herd immunization,” said Johnson Nzioka.