Do not rush to reopen schools, headteachers say
The Kenya Primary Schools Heads Association (Kepsha) has said the decision to reopen schools should not be rushed, as primary schools are not well prepared to effectively handle public health emergencies and pandemics.
Kepsha said in a report presented to National Education Covid-19 committee that the school calendar should be well thought out and guided by the Ministry of Health declaration as to when it is safe for the normal operations to resume.
"The Ministry of Education should wait until they are assured of teachers’ and learners’ safety by the Ministry of Health.
Upon declaration that the virus has been brought under control and normalcy can resume, the Ministry of Education can reorganize the school calendar taking into account of the time that will have been lost during the period of the pandemic," Kepsha said, in a report presented to the committee by its Chairman, Nicholas Gathemia.
To effectively guide the school re-opening process, Kepsha said the Ministry of Education should urgently develop guidelines on how the schools will operate on day to day as it will not be business as usual.
Deliberate effort must be made to put measures that will address the current and any future occurrence," said Kepsha.
To this end, Kepsha said teachers should be trained on basic procedures of screening individuals to determine their temperatures on each school day as away of early detection of possible infection among the members of the school community.
Kepsha also recommends that Government provides sanitizers, adequate and reliable water supply and soap for use by teachers, learners and support staff while children from vulnerable groups be regularly provided with face masks.
"School compounds and classrooms to be fumigated before learners are allowed back.Where the institutions have been used as isolation and quarantine centres, they must be fumigated for a period of 14 days before they are cleared for use by learners," Kepsha stated.
And to attain social distancing, class sizes should be limited to 25-30 pupils and co-curricular activities suspended for one year.
Kepsha also said Government should increase capitation with a vote head on infrastructure development to ensure access to education.
They also want schools bed decongested to allow for social distancing or boarders begiven an option of day-schooling.
Government has also been urged to review the online learning platforms to accommodate the poor and marginalised.
"ICT gadgets like tablets should be provided to all learners. Teachers capacity to facilitate these online lessons be enhanced through training.Special arrangements be made for homeschooling for children with disabilities and those that are not able to go back to school," Kepsha added.
Special measures should be put in place for day schools including use of designated school buses, which should adhere with Ministry of Health guidelines to prevent daily interaction with other members of the public.
They have also made proposals to have attached healthcare workers to cluster of schools for regular monitoring and support to school administrators and that they be provided with a sanatoria and small isolation rooms with at least five beds.