By Winfridah Muthee
On April 12, 2021, Education CS George Magoha assured Kenyans that schools will resume on 10th May 2021 even after President Uhuru Kenyatta had ordered closure of all schools exempting learners that were sitting for their exams.
This was in response to the continued ravaging of the country by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The president had also imposed cessation of movement into and out of five counties that were most affected namely Nairobi, Nakuru, Kajiado, Machakos and Kiambu.
The Coronavirus pandemic was the reason behind school calendar alteration and for the second year in a row, uncertainty looms even as parents brace themselves for the coming term after the president directed that schools should reopen according to Ministry of Education calendar.
Reopening of schools scheduled for Monday, May 10 also coincides with the day the KCSE results will be released.
Although the government is targeting the economy’s relaunch and considering many Kenyans are struggling with reduced income and loss of jobs following the pandemic, with no measures put in place by the government to cushion Kenyans from the harsh impacts that the pandemic had on the economy, many parents are struggling to raise funds for their children’s fee and upkeep in school due to tighter deadlines.
Despite the government also stating that all school going children are to report to school without fail, parents will still have to dig deep into their pockets and pay schools fees, owing to the fact that when schools re-opened las year after a long stay of their kids at home for almost nine months, several schools sent home pupils and students demanding that money was needed to run the day to day activities in schools.
Parents will also be faced with the quagmire of ensuring that their kids have the right books, uniforms and pocket money for their upkeep.
Parents with kids in day schools will also face the same uphill task. Despite the government saying it will ensure that it will provide meals to schools for the kids, many are times the schools have sent away children to go home and collect money for food.
They will also ensure that other things like masks are with their kids to ensure they are safe from the novel corona virus.
Speaking on Saturday, 1st May at State House, Nairobi, during this year’s Labour Day celebrations, President Uhuru said that after a month of lockdown, the COVID-19 caseload within the zoned area had come down by 72%.
The President lifted the cessation of movement in the five zoned Counties that were under a partial lockdown and revised curfew, 10pm to 4am from 8pm to 4am in the red zones, effective midnight on May 1, 2021.
His clarification was a big relief to parents since having learners stay at home for another long period due to the Covid-19 pandemic was unnerving.
On a previous event Health CS Mutahi Kagwe had assured parents that they were fighting the crisis in schools and that the vaccination of teachers would prevent the spread of the virus in the institutions.
“If the positivity rate rises and parents and students are put at risk, then we will be forced to postpone (reopening). There is no way we are going to risk the lives of our children at one time”. Kagwe stated.
On the downside, marginalized learners have been facing a lot of challenges due to closure of schools since they can’t access online learning. The opening of school has come as a relief to them.
Latest data from the National Security Council and the National Emergency Response Committee on COVID-19 indicates that the positivity rate in Nairobi County fell by 74 % in April
There is a need for every citizen to religiously observe the laid down health measures and protocols to prevent a new spike in Covid-19 infection.
The ministry of education should make sure there is flexibility in school fees payment plan to give parents time to come up with funds instead of sending students that haven’t paid fees back home.
Decision on reopening before teachers are fully protected and vaccinated would threaten several hundred thousand children attending school, as well as parents and teachers during the third and most dangerous wave of the coronavirus epidemic.
The government should therefore ensure that all teachers are vaccinated and schools have enough water points and soap, wearing of masks should be compulsory and social distancing in class be religiously observed.
Learning institutions should also ensure that hand hygiene be observed so that Covid-19 can be manageable and we can finally flatten the curve.