Social distancing impractical, says Mwiki Primary teacher
As schools reopened yesterday amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Education Ministry outlined tough measures, which include social distancing in class and wearing face masks among others.
However, implementing the social distance guideline could be a mirage at Mwiki Primary School in Ruiru constituency, Kiambu county, due to pupil population.
The school which sits on an acre parcel of land in Githurai has a population of 3,600 learners.
Out of this 1,090 in Class Eight and Grade Four were expected to report on the reopening day. Institution also has 72 teachers.
In an interview, the head teacher Joseph Kamau said due to congestion, the learners have to share desks rather than sit singly and maintain the 1.5m sitting space.
“Let us be honest. At Mwiki there is not going to be social distancing by pupils.
They are expected to share a desk once they resume since we have no space,” he said.
However, the institution has already acquired 14 thermo-guns and installed water taps all over the compound including at every toilet door to ensure pupils wash their hands in compliance with the Covid-19 protocols.
The provision of water and soap was the joint effort of Ruiru Member of Parliament Simon King’ara and Athi Water Services Board, who also ensured the installation of two elevated 50,000 cubic- meter water tanks in the school compound.
King’ara, through the NG-CDF kitty, has also constructed 15 new classrooms in a three-storey block. Construction of other 10 classrooms is ongoing in an effort to ease the congestion.
Kamau said the biggest challenge will be ensuring that pupils come to school with masks given that a majority are from extremely poor backgrounds and their parents can hardly afford to feed them.
“This presents another humongous challenge because we cannot send those who do not have masks home.
If anything it will be our responsibility to buy the item for any child who happens to come without it,” the head teacher told People Daily.
He said the pupils will be encouraged to wear reusable masks to reduce the cost of having to replace them.
Institution has also put up an isolation room that will be manned by at least five teachers, who are trained on health management matters by the St John’s Ambulance service.
Mwiki is just one of the many public primary schools whose pupils resume learning in a changed environment occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, a number of parents whose children are reporting back to secondary schools have expressed fears that they may not meet the financial requirements with many saying they have been rendered broke or jobless by the effects of Covid-19.
For instance, Ann Wangari, a mother of a First-Year university student and two others in primary says she lost her job as a waitress in an entertainment joint in Juja that was closed and has been struggling to fend for her family.