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School Heads Instructed to be Present in Schools

Parents and other stakeholders have been urging for the reopening of schools for a while but there is reason to smile as schools are going to reopen in November. This will of course happen if schools are ready. Now TSC has asked school Principals and school heads to be present in schools and prepare for reopening.

“How schools are preparing for reopening is being monitored as the global coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing,” reads a circular to all school heads and principals.

“All school heads and Principals are expected to be present in their schools and work together with the Boards of Management (BOM) in laying the groundwork of all protocols required for schools to reopen,” add TSC in the circular dated September 7, 2020.

Schools need to make sure they follow the guidelines given by the Ministry of Education to control the spread of COVID-19 are followed fully. The guidelines for reopening are discussed at the end of this article.

School reopening committees are to be created immediately. These committees will then sit down for urgent meetings to plan for the reopening of schools. This will of course be done also with neighbors of the school and other stakeholders of the school.

CS of Education Prof George Magoha has provided a strong hint that schools might reopen in November. However, this will only happen if the infection curve keeps dropping or flattens out.  The reopening plan has not yet been made public but indications are that schools will reopen in phases starting with candidate classes, these being from four and class eight students.

A meeting of stakeholders to discuss what is to be done as regards the reopening of schools is planned to take place on September 14, 2020.

According to Prof George Magoha, only Eldoret, Rift Valley Institute, and Nyeri Polytechnic Technical and Vocational Training Institutes are ready for reopening by the end of the last week.

Which TVETs are Ready for Reopening?

“Around 50 percent of TVETs are on a trajectory to reopen. What is annoying is that this is the sixth week and yet we are saying the same things repeatedly. Once we are ready we will allow the learner to sit for the examinations,” said the CS Magoha last week.

Final Year MED Students Allowed Back In Class

Prof George Magoha allowed medical students in the final year to resume face-to-face classes recently as he believes the students can help tackle the global COVID-19 pandemic once they graduate. This was communicated to the nine universities in the country that offer training in Medicine.

“In light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation which has resulted in an urgent need to train and assessing of medical students in order to help to support the dearth inadequate healthcare personnel to fight COVID-19, has consideration has now been granted to the request to resume physical learning and assessment of medical learners. Physical inspection of facilities to ascertain how prepared institutions are for the face-to-face learning, has also informed this decision.

The circular also informs universities what they should do in case there is an outbreak of the coronavirus in the institutions.

“The University has to manage any suspected coronavirus cases that might be affecting students in their quarantine or isolation facilities as they are waiting for results. Home-based care or hospital management has to be done in accordance with guidelines and protocols from the Ministry of Health,” added the Circular to universities on Monday.

Narc Kenya Party leader Martha Karua also caused a stir when she criticized CS Magoha for opting to only reopen medical schools for physical learning.

“If they recalled medical students then all students can be recalled!” said Narc Kenya Party leader Martha Karua.

Requirements to be met for Reopening

The following are the measures provided by the Ministry of Education for safe reopening that must be taken into consideration.

  1. Ministry of Health expert advice.
  2. Social distancing in shared areas/infrastructure such as classrooms, dining halls, dormitory, water points, toilets, assembly grounds
  3. Adequate clean running water.
  4. Adequate and appropriate handwashing facilities at the proximity of these facilities.
  5. Use of face masks or face shield by learners and staff
  6. Hand sanitizers to be used under the supervision of an adult in cases where there is not water and soap.
  7. Providing adequate liquid soap.
  8. Thermos-guns to be used for daily temperature monitoring and record keeping.
  9. Supplying of cleaning detergents and disinfectants.
  10. Referral systems for the provision of mental health and psychological support for learners or trainees and staff
  11. Reorganization of the programs of the institution to avoid the congestion of staff and learners in one place.
  12. Establishing surveillance mechanisms.
  13. Capacity build key stakeholders on public health and psychological support to ensure     
  14. Ensuring continued learning to all cohorts

Protocols and Guidelines for Reopening

The following are the safety protocols and guidelines from the Ministry of Education that are to be followed for the safe reopening of schools for the resumption of learning and also for the purpose of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

  • No gatherings
  • Designated routes to classes, provision of multiple entrances.
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, switches, stair rails, desktops.
  • Health and hygiene protocols (sneezing to be the elbow, not touching your face, no handshake and hugging)
  • Frequent washing of hands/sanitizing
  • Safe waste management procedures
  • Learner transport to consider all hygiene protocols in accordance with the Legal Notice No. 50 on transport.
  • No sharing of personal items and equipment (pencils, shoes, books, beddings, utensils)
  • Frequent and thorough cleaning of institution buildings
  • Communication on key COVID-19 messages
  • Capacity development of relevant teams
  • Blended learning
  • The role of school management in prevention and response to COVID-19
  • Support for teachers and non-teaching staff
  • Mental health and psychological support to learners and staff
  • Parental engagement and community involvement
  • Health, safety, and well being of learners and staff
  • What to do when a case of COVID-19 is detected in a learning institution
  • What to do in case of institution closure
  • Establish surveillance mechanism
  • County multi-agency rapid committee
  • National Emergency and Response Committee
  • County multi-agency rapid response team
  • Sub-county response committee
  • Institutional response committee
  • School clusters of 10 where applicable
  • A health facility within 10 km
  • An equipped sickbay/room for temporary isolation in case of COVID-19 case
  • Risk assessment analysis on facilities and human resource
  • Assessment on institutional preparedness to reopen
  • Continuous monitoring of health indicators and effectiveness of measures to ensure continues learning
  • Weekly progress report/feedback
  • Strengthen guidance and counseling and spiritual services

Training modules have been devised for particular stakeholders on their role in curbing the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring continued learning as follows.

Training modules

Training modules have been devised for particular categories of stakeholders in their role in curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus and at the same time ensuring continued learning as follows:

  • Education officials
  • Learners
  • Non-teaching staff, parents/guardians/caregivers, chaplain’s entire communities
  • Board of governance (Head of institutions, BOMs and PAs)

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