Safety paramount as schools reopen
After a seven-week break to allow administration of Class Eight and Form Four exams, millions of Kenyan children make their way back to school to start one of the shortest terms in their calendar.
With just 10 weeks of study, the third term, which begins today, will complete one of the most challenging school years in the country’s education history, a period which some had declared “lost”.
The reopening comes at a time the country is reeling from the latest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced the government to temporarily enforce a lockdown in five counties, which hosted majority of latest victims of the virus.
Cessation of movement in Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado was only lifted on May 1 after the number of new infections started stabilising.
A spike in the number Covid deaths sent a grim warning that the virus is still lethal and must be taken seriously.
Last week’s detection of the deadly Indian variant of the virus in Kisumu is the latest reminder that the country is not out of the woods yet.
That’s why teachers must take seriously calls to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as one way of ensuring safety of learners and the school community as a whole.
Currently, only 41 per cent of teachers have taken the jab despite the fact that they were among those classified as frontline workers and, therefore, given priority in administration of the jab.
Indeed, education officials and teachers’ unions must find time to establish reasons for the low uptake from a group that is expected to be better informed on benefits of taking the jab.
Other than vaccination, schools must do whatever is necessary to keep children safe from the virus.
At a time when many people had started overlooking Covid protocols, there is need to revisit all the Ministry of Health safety measures, including wearing face masks correctly, washing hands frequently and observing social distancing.
Parents, too, have a role of ensuring children exhibiting any signs of the disease are not sent to school for the sake of the wellbeing of all learners.
Bearing in mind that schools will close for only one week before reopening for a new term in July, any actions that may disrupt the delicate teaching calender must be addressed immediately.
The government seems to have signaled its commitment to ensure learning takes off smoothly, with reports that some schools have already received capitation funds while arrangements are being made to dispatch money to the rest.