Teachers Service Commission CEO Dr. Nancy Macharia has asked teachers aged 58 years and above to stay home.
“Today the TSC CEO Nancy Macharia restated that teachers who are 58 years and above , and those with serious underlying conditions are encouraged to work from home. She assured them that their jobs are secure,” read a message by TSC on Twitter yesterday.
Health Cabinet Mutahi Kagwe Yesterday said 24 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be in the country by the second week of February.
According to CS Kagwe, frontline healthcare workers are going to be accorded priority followed by teachers.
Speaking in Mukurweini, Nyeri County on Wednesday, Kagwe said the government has procured the doses and will be allowing the private sector to procure more doses to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There are three sources of the vaccine; the first one will be the government order of vaccine that we have already placed as the Kenya government, the second is through CDC- Africa which also has a purchasing platform organised by African countries and the third source of vaccines will be the private sector,” said Kagwe.
The Health CS said the government will be procuring AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine following approval by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Kenya government.
Scientific reports indicate that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is easier to transport and to store than the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has to be stored at -70 degrees Celsius.
The TSC announcement comes after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered all Cabinet Secretaries, Cabinet Assistant Secretaries and Principal Secretaries to scale down all in person engagements within government to virtual means in November last year.
The President also ordered State officers above 58 years to work remotely during this surge in Covid-19 cases.
“State officers above 58 years to work remotely except those serving in critical sectors,” said Uhuru.
TSC CEO Nancy Macharia yesterday reiterated her earlier advise and urged teachers aged 58 years and above to stay at home.
Dr. Nancy had assured teachers in November that TSC has negotiated with AON Minet for teachers to be covered for Covid-19 pandemic.
She also assured teachers that they will not be victimized.
“As this is a Presidential directive, your employers will not sack you. TSC has negotiated for teachers to be covered for Covid-19 related illnesses,” Nancy Macharia said.”
She asked its staff who fall under the high-risk age of 58 and above to work from home.
TSC also announced that all Covid-19 ailments are fully covered under the teachers’ medical scheme.
She said the teachers should concentrate on paperwork as their colleagues work on teaching and learning in school.
“They can be utilised in offering critical duties such as preparing schemes of work, teaching aids and marking, among others. We assure them of the safety of their jobs,” said Dr Macharia.
Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) data shows that there are at least 50,000 teachers aged 55 years or above.
“Some of these teachers already have underlying conditions and the employer must conduct a serious audit to ascertain the exact number and how they can be helped,” said Wilson Sossion, the Knut secretary general.
Mr Sossion added that younger teachers with preexisting conditions and at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 should also be asked to work from home.
“These teachers are now in the frontline and must be protected fully by the employer,” he said.
Macharia assured teachers that their medical needs would be taken care of.
“The commission has negotiated with the teachers’ medical provider, for teachers to be covered for all Covid-19 related illnesses,” said Macharia.
Minet Kenya, the administrator of the TSC medical scheme, said it was committed to covering teachers and their dependants even as virus cases spike.
“The main insurance practice in our market, however, is to have sub-limits for preexisting chronic conditions. The teachers’ scheme does not have such sub-limits,” Minet CEO Sammy Muthui said.
Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) national chair Kahi Indimuli welcomed the news but said the decision must be communicated to all medical facilities.
“We hope that they have communicated that to the health facilities so that teachers do not get turned away,” he said.
A Covid-19 Incidence Reporting tool using USSD code *202*07# has been set up to assist teachers report to the scheme provider any suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases.
However the government has been saying it will not be possible to vaccinate all the school going children.