Confusion on school reopening date as President Kenyatta urges focus on ‘how’ not ‘when’


Confusion on school reopening date as President Kenyatta urges focus on 'how' not 'when'
President Uhuru Kenyatta officially opens the National COVID-19 conference on Monday, September 28. Photo: State House|Twitter

The actual date for the resumption of in-person learning in the country remains in limbo after President Uhuru Kenyatta failed to give a definite timeline on Monday.

During the 12th address on the COVID-19 in the country at the KICC, President Kenyatta urged focus on ‘how’ schools would reopen and not ‘when’.

He said the conversation on “when” would only be had once the safety of the learners was assured.

“Learning institutions should only be reopened when we have and can sufficiently guarantee the safety of all our children. Let us not focus on when schools will reopen but on how they will reopen, ” he said

During the address, President Kenyatta called on Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha to finalize on how school’s would re-open safely, saying this would inform the decision on the actual reopening date.

“I call upon the Cabinet Secretary for Education, once we have agreed on the how, he will thereafter issue an academic calendar for the resumption of learning in 2020 or 2021, this will be dependent on what is decided,” President Kenyatta added.

Last week, the Ministry of Education had expressed optimism that schools would open their doors for the first time since March in mid-October.

Speaking on September 21, 2020 after a stakeholders meeting at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to review the reopening plan, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha said it was time for children to resume school without giving the exact reopening date.

Sources within the meeting have however revealed to Citizen TV that three dates had been recommended, subject to how soon teachers would prepare the schools.

The sources intimated that the learning institutions may be opened in slightly over a fortnight, adding that teachers were recalled first to aid in assessing the schools’ readiness and put in place safety protocols including installation of hand washing areas, rearranging of desks in classrooms and beds in the dormitories to factor in social distancing and give their report within one week.

If within one week all is well, schools could reopen on October 4, 2020; if more preparations are needed then the opening dates will be pushed to 0ctober 12. On the extreme, the final date of reopening is pegged on October 19, 2020.
In the proposed phased reopening, 50 per cent of the students comprising Form Fours, Class Eight, Class Seven and Grade Four will be admitted.
The situation is then expected to be monitored and loopholes sealed before the remaining students also resume classes a week or two later.

With the first term of learning considered to have been covered in the first three months before COVID-19 struck, the calendar has since been altered.

The period between October and December, the students will cover second term syllabus, then take a two-week Christmas break before resuming learning in January to conclude term three in April.

Candidates who were set to sit their exams this year will take it in April as sources said the government is keen on ensuring no one repeats classes.

After the candidates sit their exams, the new year calendar will commence either in May or June, as such teachers have been called upon to help the learners recover lost time.

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Story By Tonny Ndungu
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