Kenya’s Education Minister George Magoha has suspended plans to reopen schools on September 1, 2020, as the numbers of Coronavirus cases spiked.
“Based on the rising trend, we agreed to shelve classes. The country will be severely affected as all other children will lose the year. It shall be impossible to achieve social distancing. In consultation with the Ministry of Health, stakeholders agreed that reducing physical numbers in classes will affect learning, schools should only resume if cases reduce consistently for 14 days and social and physical distancing is the most critical factor in ensuring the safety of learners, handwashing and using masks and monitoring temperature will be crucial too,” Magoha stated.
All learners in grade 1 to 4, Standard 5 to 7 and Form One to Three will remain in the current classes in 2021. There will be two Form One classes in 2021 according to Magoha.
The Kenyan Minister added that the Ministry would explore online learning.
TVETS and colleges will reopen in September but with strict adherence to Covid-19 regulations.
The Ministry of Education will also release a calendar for 2021at a later date.
Teachers Service Commission (TSC) CEO Nancy Macharia, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Secretary-General Akello Misori and his KNUT counterpart Wilson Sossion announced that they fully supported Magoha in protecting learners and parents.
“We were part and parcel of the entire process of the committee set up to come with regulations and it is imperative to prepare adequately to open. We agree and concur with all Magoha has stated. The burden to manage our health system will be enormous. It would be wrong to open soon,” Misori stated.
“We urge and call all parents to ensure that our children are safe until when they resume learning. Magoha’s decisions are in the best interest of the country and stakeholders, parents and students,” Sossion added.
A parents representative at the meeting added that parents had wished to have the education calendar in 2020 postponed.
He assured parents that they would sit down with the ministry to discuss how the school fees issue would be addressed.
On Monday, July 6, while announcing the reopening of the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed Education CS George Magoha to notify the public on the resumption of the 2020 Academic Calendar for Basic Education and Tertiary Institutions.
The CS had earlier on stipulated several directives to curb the spread of the virus in schools with the focus on teachers, infrastructure and the number of students per class.
Magoha detailed that teachers would be tested for Covid-19 ahead of the resumption of studies.
The teachers were asked to report to their schools two weeks before the reopening date. The maximum number of learners in a classroom would be between 15 and 20 with each learner provided with two masks. All schools would also be equipped with thermo guns to aid in determining the temperatures of all individuals who will be seeking access to learning institutions.
The new calendar comes amid a backdrop of a back-and-forth decision by the CS on the reopening of schools. Magoha had advised the President against the reopening of schools on September 1, arguing that Coronavirus cases had spiked. He had also hinted at pushing national examinations to April 2021 and also pushing studies to resume in January 2021 with emphasis on the safety of students.