Education Ministry releases guidelines for Re-opening of Schools

Educaton Cabinet secretary pfrof. George Magoha during a past event

By Collins Orono

As the debate on whether to reopen schools or not continues the Ministry of Education has released a COVID -19 response and recovery guide for reopening of schools even as school reopening dates remain unknown.

The 50-page document highlights the guidelines institutions will be required to develop policies and procedures suitable in their own environment to enable smooth reopening of the institution.

According to the guideline, learning institutions will have to adjust timetable and learning pedagogy to ensure coverage of syllabus without straining learners

According to Education Principal Secretary Dr. Belio   Kipsang, the guidelines released on 16th September 2020 will guide on Covid 19 prevention and response measures in schools as well as facilitate production of online teaching and learning materials including expansion of already available learning programs, to ensure children continue with their education uninterrupted.

“All basic educational institutions are called upon to ensure full compliance and implementation of the guidelines and health measures”

To ensure social distancing is maintained, the government directed that all learning activities including playing, teaching/training and learning will take place outside the classrooms and in cases where children will be learning from inside classes, school management will be required to create physical distance between children at least one meter apart from one another, and one meter apart from all doors to avoid any physical contact or air contamination.

Assemblies, inter institution competitions including games, drama, music ,sports and other events that create crowded conditions shall be suspended for the time being. Institutions will hold class mini-assemblies to pray, pass health messages and make announcements.

“Activities that involve physical contact will be substituted by other activities that allow for safe physical distancing. There shall be no gymnastics at all institutions level for the time being until advised by MoH,” added the Ministry.

Desks shall be arranged in rows with the desks facing forward to minimize learners being in face to face contact with each other and children will be required to clean and disinfect desks regularly and there will be no sharing of desks or lockers.

School management will be required to ensure cleaning and disinfection of institution buildings including classrooms as well as ensure there is effective and regular cleaning twice daily   especially surfaces that are frequently touched surfaces such as tables, door handles, windows, knobs, rails, floors, walls as per the protocols.

School heads will make sure there is proper ventilation to ensure circulation of clean air by keeping the windows and doors open during the learning period as far as possible and every classroom will be required to have pedal-operated waste collection bins with liners.

Portable equipment such as laptops, projectors, chalk boxes, Braille machines and recorders for the Visually Impaired, among others should be cleaned and disinfected immediately after use.

For boarding schools, use of double decker beds must meet social distancing of at least one meter between each occupant and Children will not be allowed to share personal items such as slippers, shoes, clothes, towels, toothbrush, soap, shoe brushes, beds etc.

All dormitories including all its facilities and sections, should have good ventilation to ensure circulation of clean air to avoid dampness and all surfaces and equipment such as light switches, door and window, stair rails in the dormitory should be cleaned and disinfected daily

Children with disabilities will be provided with appropriate health and hygiene boarding facilities/requirements to ensure they are protected from COVID 19 disease

To ensure proper hygiene and sanitation, the ministry assured that Safe water source shall be provided in all institutions with adequate designated water hand washing points with soap, further Water shall be made available through on-site taps, or reservoir at the institutions and containers regularly refilled.

There will be provision of adequate water points at strategic locations for drinking water and hand washing points and they should include pedal-operated taps and devices or water dispensers with sensors to minimize hand contact and reduce the risk of infection and there will be no sharing of cups and glasses by learners and teachers and non- teaching staff

The guidelines highlight that all Children, teachers and non- teaching staff should be trained on the safe management of drinking water points to avoid water contamination.

Every classroom will be required to have access to hand washing facility with adequate clean running water and liquid soap, and ensure each person entering or leaving the classroom wash hands with water and liquid soap or sanitize.

“All the food handlers will be required to have the requisite food handling certificates and in addition be screened for COVID- 19 symptoms before being allowed to handle food and they shall undergo a symptomatic screening for COVID -19 on a daily basis and those with symptoms of COVID -19 such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulties, fatigue should be allowed to seek medical attention”. adds the ministry

All authorized visitors to the institution will have their temperatures taken and recorded. The records will include full names, telephone numbers and place of residence. The institution may share the information with Ministry of Health for purpose of contact tracing if need arises.

Any person with temperature reading 37.5 °C and above will not be allowed to enter the institution.

The ministry has warned that Any institution that does not implement the set guidelines on social distancing and hygiene protocols as outlined to ensure safety and health of learners, trainees and staff will not be allowed to provide education services until when the necessary plans are put in place.

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