Fate of schools hang in balance over July Covid-19 fourth wave

Fate of schools hang in balance over July Covid-19 fourth wave

Concern is growing about the school calendar with reports that Covid-19 fourth peak wave could be experienced in July.

The Ministry of Health has cautioned that virus infections may peak in the next two months, raising anxieties in the education sector.

Acting Director of Health Dr Patrick Amoth said the virus patterns of infections from March 2020 to March 2021 provides a hint of the next peak.

“Our analysis shows we had a peak in July and after three months we had another in November. We can categorically state that if this trend continues, our next peak should be in July,” said Amoth.

According to the revised school term dates, the present third term for Pre-Primary I&II, Grade One to Three, Standard Five to Seven and Form One to Three learners ends on July 16.

The learners will take a one-week break between July 17 and 25. Presently, Grade 4 and candidates who sat 2020 KCPE are still at home as they wait for the present learners’ to complete their third term.

All the learners will open schools for term one under the 2021 academic year starting July 26.  The 10 weeks term will end on October 10.

Parents and school heads said that July when the virus is projected to peak will be marked with busy movements of students and called for proper planning.

“This is the time for the government to plan ahead. We should not wait for the peak. Put all plans in place before that tome so that we do not have maximum impact,” said Nicholas Maiyo, National Parents’ Association chairman.

He said some of the lockdown measures should be implemented gradually to secure the future of children.

“We particularly take issue with bars because they are the super-spreaders and the sooner stricter operation rules are implemented, the better for us,” said Maiyo.

The management of private schools said schools are safe and cautioned that infections may come from home.

“We have advised our members to regularly communicate with their parents on need to abide by the protocols at home so that infections do not come to schools,” said Mutheu Kasanga, Private Schools Association chairperson.

Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (Kessha) National Chairman Kahi Indimuli said there will be a lot of movements in July as one term will be ending and another starting.

“We shall have children going home for break and at the same time have all the children even those who had been home reporting for start of term one and this needs proper planning,” said Mr Indimuli.

He said part of this must include released of the Sh13 billion capitation to schools to enable them plan to receive the children.

“Schools will need the money to plan again to receive the children. We need to ensure the protocols are implemented and this will require adequate resources,” said Indimuli.

He, however, said schools should continue even as he cautioned that teachers must get vaccination.

“We have seen that children are not affected. It is teachers and support staff who are prone to infections and they must be vaccinated,” said Indimuli

Ministry of Health data shows that by May 19, some 148,353 teachers had been vaccinated.

There are some 330,671 teachers working in public schools and 158,000 in private institutions.

Primary School Heads Association national chairman Johnson Nzioka said schools should not be shut due to surge in Covid-19 infections and urged the government to start planning.

“We have seen that children are not affected. Teachers Service Commission (TSC) needs to push for mass vaccinations for us to achieve herd immunisation,” said Nzioka.

He said children are safe and are already playing and interacting.

“In fact we are requesting the government to allow the resumption of extra-curricular activities because the children are already interacting,” said Nzioka. 

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