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Opinion: Solving the secondary and primary schools reopening problem

It has become increasingly difficult for secondary and primary schools to reopen while observing the COVID-19 safety precautions to avoid more infections. Many suggestions have been bundled about but none has looked able to solve the reopening problem. Here are the ten possible solutions that the government can borrow to solve the September reopening of secondary and primary schools conundrum.

Note: This article only assumes that the surge of new COVID – 19 infections will have reduced significantly in by September. Besides, the opinion illustrates here is the author’s and may not necessarily mirror that of Teacher.co.ke

1.            Transfer teachers to schools in counties they are currently residing

It is obvious that people are feeling safer staying where they are currently especially those in less affected areas. Teachers residing in COVID-19 hotspots can stay there and continue working if they are transferred to schools near where they are. Prof George Magoha has already ruled this out and may not ‘waste any of his’ time over it. However, this is a difficult time for everybody and we need all the help we can get to ensure the resumption of learning in secondary and primary schools is up and running.

2.            Reallocate students to schools near where they are currently residing

Another problem we are currently worrying about is if parents have the confidence to allow their children to go back to schools in counties currently experiencing a surge in new Coronavirus infections. However, the proposal of them returning to nearby schools might sway their minds. Students or pupils can be reallocated to schools closer to the level of the ones they were in before. This can be done according to counties and it will benefit both parents and the government to get this going smoothly.

Private schools should also be involved but they should only admit students in counties where they are located.

The issue of boarding students can be solved if the students will be solved largely as students will be operating from areas near their homes.

3.            Install tanks to provide water for sanitization

Without plenty of running water in schools, the huge populations of students will not be able to wash their hands frequently while sanitizing. The government should ensure that water is present in those tanks and not just assume that rain will always be there to fill those tanks. A way to pump the water to those tanks should be devised. Alternatively, if the source of water is nearby the schools, students can go and collect water to fill those tanks if they will be able to find a much important free time.

4.            Set up sanitizing stations with recommended sanitizers

The availability of plenty of water without the recommended soap (sanitizers) is of no use against the world-conquering coronavirus. Sanitizing stations should be built in all schools to ensure students are able to sanitize and clean their hands of possible infection. Besides, only the right licensed brands should be allowed as we have already seen some brand(s) banned, as they do not meet the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) standards.

5.            Come up with a suitable academic calendar

A ‘suitable’ academic calendar depends on when we reopen secondary and primary schools. An academic calendar is just simple mathematics but the elephant in the room is when to do the national examinations. This is because you have to factor in how to cover the syllabus. Without covering the syllabus, the examinations will need to cover less of what is required for each level of the 8-4-4 system that is slowly being phased out. With all these factors considered, it should not be a huge problem to come up with an academic calendar once students are back in classrooms.

6.            Reschedule national exams to the end of next year

If at all we are not able to succeed in the fight against COVID-19 before November, we should just stay at home until next year. This will mean repeating all forms students were in and starting afresh. Students will have to start where they left but with more time to cover the syllabus. However, this is only if we will not reopen in September. If we reopen in September then examinations will only be done at the end of next years’ first term.

7.            Direct teachers to ensure social distancing is practiced

Teachers will have to be vigilant with students to ensure they maintain social distancing. Young students may not be able to know why social distancing is important. Therefore, teachers should ensure this preventive measure is followed to the letter. Besides, caution will have to be taken to ensure children do not swallow the sanitizers. The old and famous “keep away from children” will be crucial in this situation.

8.            Supply masks to all students in the country

Masks will have to all students and of the right quality. If the government leaves it up to the parents it might lead to some children missing out due to the financial backgrounds they come from. There some parents who have had it difficult in this period to provide the basic needs for their families. This will mean the government will have to chip in and bail these children out. How the Ministry of Education will determine the ability of parents to afford masks will be a sticking point and as such should take it upon themselves to provide them masks.

9.            Set up enough tents for teaching in schools

The suggestion of setting up tents has also been bundled about but the cost of the tents is quite high. However, if the government can afford it, then it will be a good option for maintaining social distancing.

10.          Slash the number of boarding students and have the rest ‘day school’

Day schooling will be a good option for students residing near the schools. This could also apply to students who had been schooling in other counties where they do not reside or counties that are now hotspots. Since returning to counties that are COVID-19 hotspots will be a risk, why not learn in their home counties or other counties that are not COVIS-19 hotspots and are now under lockdown?


Schools will not be closed forever. There will come a time when we will have to reopen the schools because students cannot stay at home forever. This means we will need to be creative and wise and at the same time. We can reopen but with caution and by having teachers and students teach where they are now.

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