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We Are Not Flip-Flopping, It’s Corona, Says CS Magoha

Following claims that the government has been unsure as regards to planning on reopening of schools, CS George Magoha dismissed these on Monday citing inconsistency with COVID-19 new infection trends.

Speaking during a virtual meeting held on MondayAugust 31, he said that the government has been consistent with statements given to the public from the education ministry as regards to matters concerning reopening. However, he said that it was the pandemic that has been “flip-flopping”.

Prof George Magoha’s remarks have come amid increasing pressure aimed at the Cabinet Secretary of the ministry of education from stakeholders in the education to release a final statement on when schools will be reopened rather than just leaving everything up in the air.

“The issue we are dealing with is a medical problem; not a professional or a medical one. Even after serving as a physician for 42 years, I have never witnessed a virus like COVID-19. We must heed the advice of the physicians. As of now, the virus has followed a particular trend… the incidents are reducing.

It might seem like flip-flopping. It is impossible for anybody to say we shall open tomorrow,” said Prof George Magoha during the conference having his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta, his deputy William Ruto and the Council of Governors.

A possible reopening in September 2020 was mooted by the government following the closure of schools in March when schools were closed in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Plans regarding the reopening of schools involved the allocation of funds to public institutions to increase sanitation facilities and the number of classes in order to facilitate physical distancing.

Other stakeholders had suggested schools to be reopened only for the candidate classes so that students can prepare for the national examinations. However, the ministry refuted this suggestion saying that this approach would create inequalities among students who could have been stuck at home while others are in school. This move could probably be a better option if schools are to reopen next year but the downside is how the syllabus can be covered in a short space of time. However, if they can be allowed to sit for examinations early next year then this might work only if there is enough time to cover the syllabus.

“In class 8, there are up to 1.2 million students while we have over 700,000 learners in form four. Even after the fourth formers leave school, it will be hard to accommodate the form ones since approximately 500,000 more slots will be needed,” said CS Magoha.

Earlier, while giving a press conference in Kisumu, Magoha said that the ministry might decide to reopen schools next year but insisted the decision was not final. He said reopen may happen sooner depending on how the virus trends transpire.

Parents became more disillusioned after this as they wondered why schools were not reopening even though the ministry had stepped up setting up of hygiene facilities in schools,

A section of parents went to court to try and compel the government to open schools.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti/ Photo Courtesy

In late August, UNICEF urged African countries to begin the safe reopening of schools despite governments maintaining that it was not yet safe to send students back to schools.  

“World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa and UNICEF have today urged all African governments to facilitate safe re-opening of schools and measures that can curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The closure of schools intended to keep children safe from the virus is having many negative impacts,”  said the WHO African Region representative.

The Ministry of Health hinted on Monday, August 31, that the National Youth Service (NYS) will be producing facemasks to be used by both teachers and learners.

His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta also said that the infection curve was flattening. However, WHO refuted those claims saying that the figures may not reflect the real situation as regards the global coronavirus pandemic in Kenya. This might in part be due to testing not being conducted in many places so as to give a truer reflection of new infection in all parts of the country.

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