Calendar in limbo as virus strikes schools

Star of the Sea High School in Mombasa where four coronavirus cases have been reported. The management of the institution closed it for two weeks.

Photo credit: Laban Walloga | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Grade Four, Std Eight and Form Four learners have been in school since October 12.
  • Tononoka and Star of the Sea high schools in Mombasa were shut for two weeks on Monday when teachers and learners were confirmed to have coronavirus.
  • A teacher at Mama Ngina Primary School in Kinoo, Kiambu County, died of coronavirus-related complications.

A rise in coronavirus cases among learners and teachers could slow down the back-to-school calendar even as the Ministry of Education insists all will be well.

With the death of a teacher in Kiambu and closure of two schools in Mombasa, the government is under pressure to put in place measures to contain the pandemic.

Education Chief Administrative Secretary Zack Kinuthia said every school would be handled individually.

“The health of our children is paramount. We believe schools are able to control the Grade Four, Standard Eight and Form Four learners but the rest of the children may have to wait a little longer,” he said yesterday.

Grade Four, Std Eight and Form Four learners have been in school since October 12.

The rest were to be recalled after two weeks, subject to the consistent reduction in infections countrywide.

Tononoka and Star of the Sea high schools in Mombasa were shut for two weeks on Monday when teachers and learners were confirmed to have coronavirus.

The Nation has learnt that eight people tested positive for the virus at Tononoka while four cases were reported at Star of the Sea.

Operations suspended

“This is to inform you that school operations have been suspended from today Monday October 19, to allow fumigation. Normal operations will resume on November 2,” Star of the Sea High School administrators notified parents.

A senior teacher in one of the schools is among the infected while other tutors are waiting for their test results.

“We were asked to go for tests when the teacher was found to have the virus. Some results came on Monday,” a source at Star of the Sea said.

The Kenya National Union of Teachers (Knut) expressed concern, saying a majority of learners do not wear masks.

“We need to strictly observe the Covid-19 protocols, including social distancing, washing hands and wearing of face masks. Teachers and learners must be protected,” Knut National Executive Council member Dan Aloo said yesterday.

Malindi and Magarini Knut branch secretary Fredrick Ngum, said a day school in Kibokoni reported two coronavirus cases.

Samples are being tested at Malindi Hospital.

A teacher at Mama Ngina Primary School in Kinoo, Kiambu County, died of coronavirus-related complications.

“About 50 people who interacted with the teacher have been traced,” Health executive Joseph Murega said yesterday.

Lelmokwo High School principal Titus Ng’etich dismissed reports of coronavirus at the institution.

“Our students and staff are healthy. We have not had any cases, not even symptoms among school community members since reopening,” he said.

A second coronavirus case was reported at St Peter’s Boys High School, Mumias yesterday.

Isolation centre

Kakamega County Commissioner Pauline Dola said a teacher has been taken to an isolation centre.  The first case was a Form Four student, who doctors say is in a stable condition. He was also isolated.

Panic gripped Scheme estate in Kakamega town when Nabongo Dispensary was shut after a worker tested positive for the virus.

The hospital is just metres from Nabongo Primary School and is one of the few handling emergencies related to Covid-19. Samples were obtained from the other employees yesterday.

The community around Muumandu Secondary School in Machakos is on alert after a student was confirmed to have the virus.

School head Patrick Mwangani said the boy was tested on Tuesday. Health workers took the student to his Kee village home in Makueni County for isolation.

Nandi Health executive Ruth Koech said a team of experts has been dispatched to schools to monitor the situation.

Most learners in Bungoma lack face masks, do not observe social distancing and flout health guidelines.

Reported by Winnie Atieno, Ahmed Mohammed, Charles Lwanga, Faith Nyamai, Simon Ciuri, Benson Amadala, Wycliff Kipsang’, Tom Matoke and Brian Ojamaa

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