School calendar in disarray due to Covid-19 crisis

Uhuru Gardens Primary School

Uhuru Gardens Primary School Standard 8 pupils try out their new desks on October 29, 2020.

Photo credit: Kanyiri Wahito | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The earlier planned 2020-2021 school calendar May not be completed in the envisaged timelines. It will be a tall order for teachers to do a crash programme.
  • The CS said the Kenya National Examinations Council exams timetable will not be changed.


The Ministry of Education is in the horns of a dilemma over the running of schools, with the rising Covid-19 infections leaving the school calendar in disarray.

But yesterday, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha was confident that the schools will continue running “even if there is a third wave” of coronavirus infections.

Education experts, however, warn that any delays in full reopening beyond November 2 would cause a syllabus crisis in primary and secondary schools, which may force learners to repeat classes next year.

The earlier planned 2020-2021 school calendar May not be completed in the envisaged timelines. It will be a tall order for teachers to do a crash programme.

Learners in Pre-Primary 1 and 2, Grades One to Three, Standard Five and Standard Seven, and Form One to Three were initially set to start reporting from Monday, October 26, but a spike of the Covid-19 virus in the country caused the ministry to shelve the plan.

A planned crisis meeting next week will discuss various possibilities. They will also be meeting with health experts to advise on the best way to open schools.

Read: School heads asked to refund fees paid for second, third terms

Delays in the delivery of desks, among other crucial school equipment and the failure by parents to pay fees as schools heads await capitation funds have further complicated the government’s reopening plan.

School calendar

The revised school calendar issued by the Ministry showed that the second term, which started on October 12, would end on December 23, allowing learners to break for only one week. Learners were to report to school on January 5 for another 11 weeks calendar, which will end in March.

Prof Magoha said so far, the school calendar for the Grade 4, Standard 8, and Form Four will not be affected even as he made indications that other learners may also be recalled back to school. The CS, however, said the phase two reopening date is yet to be decided on.

The CS said the Kenya National Examinations Council exams timetable will not be changed.

“The national examinations timetable is not changing because we are not planning to close schools because of Covid-19. When that time comes, we shall tell you. For now, the timetable remains and children should be urged to continue preparing,” said the CS.

Perform miracles

According to the school calendar, Standard 8 candidates will sit their Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations between March 22 and March 24 while those in Form Four will sit for their Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations between March 25 and April 16.

If students report in January, teachers will be required to perform miracles to finish term two and term three syllabi by April if the calendar is not revised.

Yesterday, the CS said learning will continue in all institutions but admitted that there are challenges in ensuring physical distancing in schools.

“We are not thinking of closing schools. We are thinking of going on with exams which we are preparing for now. There is a lot of pressure from the public that we should open our schools, but we are still consulting on the issue,” said Prof Magoha. “The big question nobody has answered is that because Covid-19 has come and is here to stay, we were at the peak two months ago, and now the second peak seems to be higher than the first one. Will there be a third peak or not? And if there will be a third peak, do we continue keeping our children at home, and the answer is definitely no, because life must continue.”

The CS was speaking at Kereri Girls High School in Kisii County where he had gone to inspect preparations for reopening of schools.

“We have already said that we shall not achieve social distancing in schools,” said the CS.

He stated that all other guidelines such as handwashing and sanitising must be adhered to.

The CS said the Sh2 billion school desk project will be complete by next week. The government gave out the money to produce and distribute desks to 15 public schools in each of the sub-counties under the Economic Stimulus Programme.

Currently, most learners in public schools are idling at home.

For the few who were doing online classes, the lessons were suspended as teachers went back to school to teach Grade four, Standard 8 and Form four learners.

Reporting by Faith Nyamai, Ruth Mbula and Macharia Mwangi

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