Schools may remain closed beyond June 4

School closure may be extended indefinitely, Education CS George Magoha (pictured) has said.


In a statement to newsrooms on Friday, the CS said all stakeholders should be prepared to face the reality of the extension given that the government will not sacrifice children’s health.


“…education … can wait to be offered at a later time when the safety and health of children can be guaranteed.”


On May 12, the Education ministry appointed the Covid-19 National Education Response Committee to advise the Cabinet Secretary on steps to take to ensure normalcy in the basic education amid the pandemic.


“The ministry will desist from focusing on school reopening dates and instead give priority to putting in place solid mitigation measures.”


The decision on reopening schools, Magoha said, will be guided by data and evidence provided by the Helath ministry.


The team was advised to work with speed to submit an interim report to the CS as part of the evidence upon which the government will make decisions regarding the extended school closure.


The committee today presented the interim report to the CS with various proposals on possible mitigation measures that if put in place will ensure the health and safety of learners in schools once they are reopened.


Prof Magoha said the process of reopening schools will not be a switch-on-switch-off affair, but rather a carefully thought out process that must guarantee the safety and health of all learners, teachers and staff.


The ministry said it takes the infection projections seriously, especially in view of the fact that more than 350 schools are currently quarantine and isolation centres.


The current one month extension to the school reopening dates was set to end on June 4, 2020.

The decision on reopening schools, Magoha said, will be guided by data and evidence provided by the Helath ministry.

The ministry will review the report before advising the country on the steps to be taken regarding the academic calendar.

Also in question is the level of preparedness required of all in the running of ECD centres, primary and secondary schools and teacher training institutions when they are re-opened.
The ministry added that the Covid19 situation obtained during the time when the committee collected views from stakeholders sharply changed when the infection rates hit three-digit figures.
Further, the Health ministry has projected that the rates of Covid-19 infections are likely to hit a peak in August-September 2020.

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The debate on schools reopening has sparked conversation from educationists and politicians alike. Citizens are split on the matter.
The main concern is the KCPE and KCSe candidates, who seem to be at a disadvantage having stayed away from school for three months, and counting.
While others push for the schools to be reopened, stakeholders say it is difficult to ensure social distance and proper hygiene in school to stop infections.
When the disease was first confirmed in Kenya on March 13, school closure was among the first actions taken by the government to flatten the infection curve.
Kenya National Union of Teachers Wilson sossion has been at the forefront in calling for the modification of the school calendar and have children stay at home until it is safe to go back to school.

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He said “education is not a ticket to heaven” and not worth risking children’s lives.
His Kuppet counterpart Akello Misori earlier criticised the use of schools and quarantine and isolation centres, saying more will need to be done to ensure the safety of children before they are allowed to go back.

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