Three days after the first case of Covid-19 was announced in Kenya, the president, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta announced the closure of schools, colleges and universities in a televised address. I was visiting my sister who works and lives within a school compound when the announcement went up on air. There was an immediate cheer and screams of joy and jubilation filled the air. Students love a break and these were thrilled with the closure little knowing that it was going to be the beginning of a long, sad, winding break that would see them loose close to a whole learning year!
The schools would re-open on 4th /01/2021, nine months after they had been closed. They opened at a time when a lot had happened, students and pupils had been away for far too long, some had lost parents to Covid-19, some had parents who had lost jobs, some teachers had died due to the disease and others were recovering et cetera. Therefore, re-opening schools and getting back to a routine and normalcy has not been easy. But slowly, the schools have been running and the old routine is slowly falling into place.
Here are some of the ways in which the schools have tried to cope;
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Being a relatively new illness, a lot of training and sensitization was needed to bring teachers and learners up to speed.
The training involved; teaching people on the modes of spread, the presentations (symptoms to look out for), and how to reduce communicability from one person to another.
students were also taught about the importance of masking up, cough hygiene, why they should avoid hugging and shaking hands clustering at all.
Additional classes and dorm spaces set up
To reduce congestion and ensure a distance of a meter is kept from one learner to the next one, classes were expanded and new dorm buildings were set up.
Also learners were taught in smaller groups than it was being done before.
Suspended extra- curricular activities
Sports and drama festivals had to be suspended, same as science congress and mathematics symposiums
These activities made high school especially fun but with the shortened terms, it was important to skip them.
The other reason they were skipped was also so as to prevent crowds and hence reduce congestion which would encourage spread of Covid-19.
Temperature check points
The schools had gate persons and security personnel check the temperatures of anyone getting inside the schools as a useful screening method to identify persons who would need further tests before mingling with groups of students.
Establishment of isolation rooms
Some schools set up isolation rooms in their sick bays where persons with CAovid-19 symptoms would be cared for before getting transferred to the hospitals for further treatment.
Set-up of Covid-19 response team
A Covid-19 response team was set up to help with formulation of measures to prevent spread among students and even the teaching and non-teaching staff, and also to provide counselling to students who had been directly and indirectly affected by Covid-19.
It has been tough but slowly, learning is returning to normalcy, we had form fours and class eight students doing their national examinations and they are transitioning to the next phase of life. Even pre- school children graduated and will be joining grade one as soon as schools re-open. slowly, as more people get vaccinated, the number of new infections will drop hopefully and learning will go on as was before!