Learning institutions will not reopen on June 4 as was earlier scheduled, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha has said.
Speaking after he received an interim report from the 10-member Education Response Committee on Covid-19 at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development yesterday, Prof Magoha said schools will remain closed until the Covid-19 situation is contained.
“Parents should prepare to stay with their children longer until the health situation in the country stabilises. As at now, I cannot say when schools will resume. For me timelines and national exams are not a priority, they can even stay until January,” Prof Magoha said.
The Ministry of Health projected that the rates of Covid-19 infections are likely to hit a peak in August-September.
“The ministry takes these projections seriously, especially in view of the fact that more than 359 of our schools are currently designated as quarantine and isolation centres.”
The CS asked parents to be prepared to face the reality of an extended closure of schools.
He said the government cannot sacrifice the health of children for the sake of an education that can wait to be offered later, when the safety and health of children can be guaranteed.
“The ministry will desist from focusing on schools’ reopening dates and instead give priority to putting in place solid mitigation measures.”
Prof Magoha downplayed some of the recommendations of the task force and said the report is too preliminary to be acted on.
The ministry, he said, will review the report before advising the country on the steps to be taken regarding the academic calendar and the level of preparedness that will be required of all stakeholders involved in the running of schools.
“There are several committees set up by President Uhuru Kenyatta on the response to the pandemic. I will look into the report and we will have to remove some of the recommendations made by the Education task force and retain others.”
The ministry of Education, he said, will table some of the proposals before the National Emergency Response Committee this weekend for further consultations to inform the decision on reopening schools
“These consultations will also take into consideration the fact that the current government restrictions announced by President Kenyatta will expire on June 6,” he said.
Details in the committee’s report revealed that the team is proposing that this year’s national examinations be pushed to a date not earlier than February next year.
Credible sources on the committee also revealed they have advised that schools be reopened in September.
The report prepared by the Dr Sarah Ruto-chaired committee recommends that the Ministry of Education change the academic calendar to start in September and provide all resources required to keep schools running.
Other recommendations are that school funds that were meant for first term, second and third term should be released in whole in September once classes resume.
Prof Magoha, who seemed to have disagreed with some of the details of the report, said the decision to reopen schools should not be hastened.
He said even though Covid-19 may linger, the ministry has started putting in place measures to ensure children are safeguarded and high levels of hygiene are maintained in schools.
“We will start putting water in our schools and put all the other measures in place for both learners and teachers,” he said.
On private schools, the CS said all learning institutions are closed and those enrolling learners for second term are going against the ministry’s regulations.
He, however, said parents who choose to pay for their children to attend online classes should do it voluntarily.
“Private schools depend on parents and those that have their children studying online should pay,” he said.