What you need to know:
- The regulations demand that the teachers be more involved in making learning institutions safe.
- The ministry has published on its website a 43-page document spelling out measures heads should put in place before they are issued with certificates that allow a school to reopen.
- It is not clear why the ministry published the document marked “draft”.
A majority of headteachers are in the dark concerning the Covid-19 guidelines the Ministry of Education has issued before schools reopen in January.
The headteachers say the new guidelines could interfere with their budgets.
The regulations demand that the teachers be more involved in making learning institutions safe before, during and after the reopening.
“I know nothing about the document. The ministry should have alerted us,” Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association Chairman Kahi Indimuli said by phone.
He, however, added that the task force set up by Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha suggested protocols to be developed.
The ministry has published on its website a 43-page document titled ‘Guidelines on Health and Safety Protocols for Reopening of Basic Institutions amid Covid-19 Pandemic’, spelling out measures heads should put in place before they are issued with certificates that allow a school to reopen.
It is not clear why the ministry published the document marked “draft”.
Some senior ministry officials appear unaware of it.
Heads are required to carry out risk assessment of their schools using a matrix provided by the ministry.
The grid will establish the level of exposure a school faces and suggest mitigation measures.
Principals and headteachers should also identify the person responsible for the intervening actions.
“As much as possible, institution activities, playing, teaching/training and learning will take place outside the classrooms/lecture halls /tutorial rooms,” the document says.
Where learners will be in enclosed spaces, they must be kept a metre apart from one another.
This will be a challenge for schools since a majority are congested. Schools are expected to develop policies and procedures suitable to their environment.
The document advises school managers “to revise institution budgets to prioritise infrastructure to maintain social distance, provision of water, sanitation and hygiene...and focus on remedial education and training to compensate for lost instructional time”.
The teachers, however, complain that the government has not supported schools since the March closure directive.
“There are very many conditions and it will be impossible to implement them all,” a principal said.
AUTHORITY TO REOPEN
The authority to reopen a school will be given by a multi-sectoral team “that will conduct assessment on the feasibility and readiness of institutions’...preparedness”.
A checklist for assessing preparedness has been provided. The inspecting officials will then issue a compliance or non-compliance certificate.
Schools are expected to adopt a proactive approach to reintegrate most vulnerable learners and trainees.
There have reportedly been many cases of teen pregnancies and marriages since schools closed in mid-March.
The guidelines instruct school managers, in liaison with Ministry of Interior, to follow up on cases of absenteeism in order to reduce the number of dropouts.