Social distancing headache in school reopening efforts

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Education CS George Magoha (centre) with education trade union officials addresses the media. Photo/PD/Gerald Ithana

Achievability of social distancing in schools will determine whether the institutions will be reopened in September, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha reiterated yesterday.

The CS, who early this week cast doubts on the possibility of schools reopening in September, expressed fears the congestion in schools due to the government policy of 100 per cent transition would pose challenges to the social distancing protocol.

“We are taking all factors raised into consideration including the fact that the Government has taken the children to school using the 100 percent transition and schools are a bit congested,” he noted.

Whether schools reopen or not, explained Magoha, will depend on achieving social distancing, which has been a key concern area for the Ministry.

The CS yesterday met representatives from Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut), Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet), Kenya Secondary School Heads Association (KSSHA), Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha), Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) and Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

Further consultations

“We have reached a consensus but it is not my place to say what the consensus is but in good time the owner of the process (the President) will inform the public about it,” said Magoha.

He added: “The purpose of this meeting was to tell you we are consulting so that by the time the President makes certain pronouncements about certain things it will be an informed pronouncement and it will be on the basis of networking.”

Magoha also stated that the ministry was in the process of assessing the status of schools and colleges as it explores possible strategies for gradual reopening.

He stated that the Ministry is seeking to reduce contact in learning institutions by having fewer learners at the same time for a greater impact in reducing coronavirus disease and fatalities associated with reopening of institutions.

Early this week, Magoha cast doubts on the proposal to reopen schools in September while the number of Covid -19 infections was on the rise.

He hinted that the government may be forced to defer the opening date for schools until the infections’ curve was flattened.

And yesterday, the CS said the parents association has been networking across the country and their firm position has been that schools do not open until stability is achieved by flattening the curve.

“As you are aware, a few days ago we had a peak of 278 cases and since that time we are in the hundreds.

We have also been reliably informed by the doctors that the peak is likely to come in September and perhaps step down by January.”

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