After spending six months inside their homes due to restrictions enforced due to COVID-19 pandemic, children walked to their schools across Kenya on Monday, except in two regions.
Under strict measures, which included maintaining hygiene, sanitation and disinfection measures, children studying in primary and secondary standards attended their classes.
Teachers at the Moi Avenue Primary School in the central Nairobi said they ensured temperature checks, washing of hands and wearing of masks before letting children enter into school. They said the practice will continue until the Health Ministry revises its guidelines.
Kenya’s Education Minister George Magoha, who visited a primary school in Nairobi’s Kibera slums pleaded with private school managers not to send children home, even if they have not paid school fees.
“Although physical distancing shall remain a challenge to us, it should not be a bottleneck to the resolve of reopening schools,” he said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Fred Awuor, a teacher at the Jamhuri Highschool, said some 120 students out of 183 students reported in the school.
“We have set up measures to ensure the students sanitize their hands at all times and there are also water points where they can wash hands. The students are sitting 1.5 meters apart. They are glad to be back in school,“ he said.
He added that social distancing remains a challenge. “For the time being we have kept the distance in the classes, but when students from lower classes stand attending, it will be difficult to maintain social distancing,“ he added.
Evans Ogego, a prefect or a student leader at the school said he was glad to return to school.
“We have lost so much time while staying at home. We were having online classes but not all could afford it. The annual examinations are very close, we have to work extra hard to pass our exams,“ he said.
Away from capital, different story
But away from capital Nairobi, Anadolu Agency found that schools were not prepared as elaborately.
As many as 26 schools at Baringo in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley county continued to remain shut, as they have been submerged in water. Heavy rains had lashed the region over the past two weeks caused a rise in the water levels of Lake Baringo.
“I could not go to school. There is water all over. I was excited to return to school. We have even abandoned our home because of the floods,“ said Dorcas Chebii,16, a student in Lake Baringo Secondary School.
As soon as water level started rising, residents around managed to rescue computers, laboratory equipment, desks and books from the school.
Chelimo Chelagat the headteacher of Salabani Secondary School said everything is submerged in water, including classrooms, library and our administration block.
Central Kenya has an opposite problem, with schools remaining closed due to water scarcity.
Private school owners have also kept schools shut, as they complain that due to taxes and inability to pay salaries, they are not able to hire teachers.
Kenya’s Education Ministry has released 13.2 billion Kenya shillings ($121.5 million) to help the school to restart classes at primary and secondary levels. The annual exams are scheduled now in March 2021, to allow students to prepare.
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