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It’s Time to Reopen Schools, Says Magoha

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha has said that now is the time to reopen schools as he rules out reopening in January.

According to CS Magoha, the situation with COVID-19 is not going to change even if the government pushes the reopening of schools to January 2021.

“We have to bite the bullet as now is the time to reopen schools,” CS Magoha told members of the National Assembly Committee on Education. The Committee is chaired by Nyeri MP Ngunjiri Wambugu.

The Cabinet Secretary said that his Ministry is working with the relevant stakeholders on “how” rather than “when” schools are to be reopened. In his opinion, schools are to reopen “soon” and that the Committee on COVID-19 considered a broad spectrum on all issues affecting the reopening of schools.

The education task force committee proposed the reopening of schools to be between the October 5 and October 19 dates. He said that the new school calendar has been drawn in such a manner that the 2020 academic year will not be lost.

So when are schools reopening?

Regarding the particular date for reopening the CS diffused question on reopening dates as he explained that for now he can only issue the school calendar but the dates for reopening will be announced later.

“Do not put me in a tricky situation to give you the dates for reopening. However, for now, all I can do is issue the academic calendar but dates for reopening will be announced later,” said CS Magoha.

President had indicated putting on hold plans for reopening schools this month on Monday. While the President addressed Kenyans, he said that what should be considered is “how” rather than “when” schools will be reopened. According to the president, what matters most is the safety of how children.

COVID-19 is still a global pandemic whose cure or vaccine has not been found yet. There are indications, though not verifiable, that a vaccine could be made available by the year 2024, which is still some time away from now.

“Our children’s lives and their health is not an issue for debate,’ said President Uhuru Kenyatta. The President directed Prof Magoha to assemble stakeholders and deliberate the reopening of schools and the come up with a school calendar.

Prof Magoha said yesterday that the Ministry of Education has partnered with UNICEF in supplying 700,000 reusable masks and a billion facemasks in partnership with KCB Bank to school children in Kenya.

Besides, the CS also mentioned a partnership with an unnamed private organization to supply all schools in the country with thermometer guns to help in preparations for the reopening of schools. in this partnership, schools will still need to buy additional thermometer guns using budgets received from the Ministry of Education.

Teachers in Schools As They Prepare For Reopening

The CS said teachers were recalled to schools in order to begin preparing for the reopening of schools and to also prepare lesson plans and make sure they cover the school syllabus.

“Kenya is the only country that has not reopened schools in the region as our neighboring countries have reopened while others are planning to eventually reopen schools. Therefore, we cannot lag behind,” said Prof George Magoha.

Regarding school desks, the CS said that the Ministry is in its final stages of identifying artisans qualified to manufacture desks and deliver them to schools by October 19, as planned.

“Anxiety about payment of fees can be tackled by schools,” added CS Magoha. On water in schools, the CS said that water will be supplied to schools with funds to be disbursed to schools once they have reopened.

Children Still in Limbo

Children throughout the country are still in suspense, as they do not know when schools will reopen. The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT) Secretary-General Wilson Sossion, also a nominated MP said that it is wrong for children not to be aware when schools will reopen up to this moment.

“Consultations on how to reopen schools should be fast-tracked to make sure children are in schools as soon as it is possible,” said Wilson Sossion.

The Kenya Post Primary Education (KUPPET) National Chairman Omboko Milemba, also MP of Emuhaya said that the ministry needs just 1 billion to supply facemasks to all children who attend school.

Basic Education Secretary Belio Kipsang said that the government is releasing Kshs. 13 Billion to schools to enable them to prepare for reopening of schools.

According to Belio, the ministry released Kshs 31.8 Billion to schools, which is 50% of capitation. Schools received Kshs. 4,500 to improve their infrastructure.

“Schools have that have utilized their funds will have done a great job for safe reopening,” he said. The MPs are ready to help schools to prepare for reopening via the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

On Monday, September 28, KNUT Secretary-General Wilson Sossion urged schools to be “last to be reopened”.

Speaking to Citizen TV on Monday night he said, “I believe that the directive given by the President is guided by empirical data that we have. We have to understand that the economy cannot be opened at once in all places.

‘” If I can paraphrase the words of President Uhuru, he said, “we can’t risk the lives of our children”. Many Kenyans have said that before you reopen schools, can you reopen churches, social places and then reopen schools from that experience,” he said

Colleges and Universities have been directed to begin reopening on Monday while prioritizing students doing Practical-oriented or science-based subjects respectively.

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