The Education Task-force selected by Education CS Prof George Magoha to advise on school reopening has now settled on October 19th as the date for reopening of all basic institutions of learning.
The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) has already ordered teachers back to class next Monday 28th September to prepare for reopening of schools.
TSC CEO Dr. Nancy Macharia said teachers should report back to schools to prepare for the eventual reopening of the basic learning institutions between now and Monday 28th of September.
“The innovative sense that you have always had so that both parents and learners are assured of safety and civic assurance when schools reopen. And in this regard we have deliberated on this as a committee and we are therefore asking our teachers to report back to schools on Monday 28th to prepare for the eventual opening of schools. So our teachers can report any day between now and Monday 28th September to prepare for the eventual reopening,” said Dr. Nancy Macharia.
The Task-force led by it’s chair Dr. Sarah Ruto has presented its report officially to the Education CS today Monday.
The experts have recommended phased reopening of the primary and secondary schools with phase one reopening to take place in October 19th and to include class seven and eight as well as form three and four classes.
The Task-force Phase two reopening recommends Pre-primary one and two, Grade one to three, Standard five and six and finally Form one and two classes to resume learning in November 2nd.
However CS Magoha has warned parents and media against interpreting this as school reopening cause they are not.
The Sarah led team of senior educators proposes to reorganise the academic calendar such that the second term starts in October and ends in November, and the third term starts in January and ends in March.
Thus the first term in the 2021 calendar will start in May or early June, meaning hundreds of thousands of children scheduled to join Early Child Development Education classes will be delayed for half a year.
The stakeholders also had another alternative proposal which is to reopen schools for all classes this October 19th and monitor programmes and health concerns thereafter.
Also in the proposal the candidate classes are to sit for their KCPE and KCSE exams in April 2021.
The Task force also recommends re-ogarnization of school calendar to start in June and no repetition of classes when learning resumes.
However during the stakeholders meeting at KICD buildings Nairobi, the CS had said school reopening date will be known after a mega stakeholders meeting on September 25th.
Already the Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) is developing assessment tools that will be sent to schools to gauge learners’ entry behaviour before learning takes off.
All assessments will be done in schools where teachers will mark and upload the scores onto the Knec portal.
On Friday Prof George Magoha said that teachers should start preparing to report to their schools as the ministry prepares to receive the report on Monday from a taskforce established earlier this week to look at preparedness of learning institutions.
Addressing the media after assessing the preparedness of Mawego Technical Training Institute in Homabay County, the CS said that from his personal observation, Covid-19 curve has started to flatten.
“From what I have observed, the curve is flattening and as a ministry we are in the process of relooking at our systems so that to get prepared. The report for technical and vocational institutions is ready and on Monday we will wait to receive the other reports from the taskforce and take them to another level for consideration before a concrete decision can be made,” Prof Magoha said.
“Teachers can start to prepare to report back to their schools to make them habitable before students report. And at that time, we will have phased re-opening with priority given to exam classes. In fact technical colleges are likely to re-open soon,” he said.
Schools were closed in March after the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Kenya, and the government had set January 2021 as the date for re-opening.
Earlier this week the Ministry issued health guidelines for safe reopening of schools. In the 50-page document highlighting the guidelines, institutions will be required to develop policies and procedures suitable in their own environment to enable smooth reopening of the institution.
Also, learning institutions will have to adjust timetable and learning pedagogy to ensure coverage of syllabus without straining learners.
Every school will have to map an emergency health facility that is within 10 km and collaborate with County government to have some health personnel assigned to the institution for regular health monitoring and sensitizations.
For boarding schools, social distancing must be observed with double-decker beds having a one-metre distance between occupants.
“All learning institutions should have adequate, clean and well maintained toilets at a ratio of 1 door to 25 girls and 1 door to 30 boys with a urinal. Toilets should be disinfected three times a day,” the guidelines read in part.
Learners will also be required to observe a one-metre social distancing in classes and laboratories.
Furniture should be cleaned and disinfected daily.
Institutional food handlers and cleaners will be required to have personal protective equipment including gloves, apron and facemasks.
Also, all the food handlers should have the requisite food handling certificates and in addition be screened for Covid- 19 symptoms before being allowed to handle food.
“All food handlers shall undergo a symptomatic screening for Covid -19 on a daily basis; those with symptoms of Covid -19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, fatigue) should be allowed to seek medical attention,” the guidelines add.
Fields shall be appropriately marked to ensure learners/trainees play different games that avoid touching or holding.
Swimming should be halted in all educational institutions until the Covid-19 risk is at lowest level as shall be guided by the Ministry of Health.
Assemblies, inter institution competitions including games, drama, music ,sports and other events that create crowded conditions shall be suspended for the time being.
Institutions will hold class mini-assemblies to pray, pass health messages and make announcements.
“Activities that involve physical contact will be substituted by other activities that allow for safe physical distancing.
There shall be no gymnastics at all institutions level for the time being until advised by MoH,” added the Ministry.
“Availability of water remains crucial to support personal hygiene including drinking and hand washing with soap as a key preventive measure. Water should also be available for regular cleaning, laundry and other purposes,” adds the Ministry.
Learners, trainees and non- teaching staff temperatures shall be taken every day and records maintained.
All authorized visitors to the institution will have their temperatures taken and recorded. The records will include full names, telephone numbers and place of residence.
The institution may share the information with Ministry of Health for purpose of contact tracing if need arises.
Any person with temperature reading 37.5 °C and above will not be allowed to enter the institution.
In the event a Covid-19 case is detected, the information should be communicated immediately via established communication structure and there should be an immediate closure of the institution based on Ministry of Health advice to curb further spread of the virus.
“Any institution that does not implement these guidelines on social distancing and hygiene protocols as outlined to ensure safety and health of learners, trainees and staff will not be allowed to provide education services until when the necessary plans are put in place,” the document undersigned by Education PS Belio Kipsang concludes.