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Why it is not yet time for Uhuru to relax rules on reopening schools

Saturday June 06 2020
MAGOHAPIX

Education CS George Magoha addressing the media at KICD, Nairobi on reopening of schools. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By DAVID MUCHUNGUH
By ANGELA OKETCH

Schools are likely to remain shut, even as the country eagerly awaits President Uhuru Kenyatta’s decision today on whether to relax or extend Covid-19 containment measures.

Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) George Magoha said Friday that news of schools reopening was “like an open secret”.

Speaking when he received the final report of the Covid-19 National Education Response Committee at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development, the CS said: “It will look like an open secret because, as we speak, 351 public schools are being used by the government as quarantine centres and some of the universities are being used as isolation centres.”

He hinted at the contents of the report by citing countries that reopened schools only for them to be shut again.

Over the past two weeks, the Ministry of Health has been reporting increasing numbers of Covid-19 positive cases, with Nairobi and Mombasa counties accounting for the majority of the infections.

While updating the Covid-19 data yesterday, Health Chief Administrative Secretary Mercy Mwangangi said Kenya had recorded an additional 134 new cases, bringing the national caseload to 2,474.

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The positive cases are distributed in seven counties, including Mombasa (67), Nairobi (31), Busia (15, all truck drivers), Machakos( five), Taita-Taveta (four), and Kilifi and Nakuru (two cases each). Garissa, Muranga, Kisumu, Uasin Gishu and Kajiado recorded one case each.

In Mombasa, the cases are in Kisauni (25), Jomvu (12), Changamwe and Mvita (10 each), and  Likoni (0ne).

Nairobi’s cases are in Kibra (19), Westlands (seven), Madaraka (three), Langata and Embakasi East (two cases each). Ruaraka, Kasarani and Embakasi South had one case each.

In Busia, all the cases are from truck drivers at the border entry point. In Machakos, all the five cases are from Athi River, while in Taita-Taveta cases are from truck drivers in Taveta while the two cases in Kilifi were recorded in Kilifi South and Kilifi North.

The country has discharged 51 patients from various facilities, bringing the total recoveries to 643. However, one patient succumbed to the virus, raising the total deaths to 79.

“You have seen in places like South Korea and Israel, where everything was done correctly and people rushed to open and they closed,” Prof Magoha said, adding that the report will be made available to the public next week.

The committee, he said, had made “credible proposals on the way forward in seeking a resumption of learning, whenever it is considered appropriate as guided by the Ministry of Health and other arms of government”.

The team last week presented a preliminary report to Prof Magoha and had proposed reopening schools in September.

The report also suggested that national examinations be pushed from November to February next year.

The minister said yesterday that he would present the final report to President Kenyatta, who is expected to report its recommendations today.

The committee was chaired by Dr Sara Ruto and had membership from various education stakeholders. It, however, left out teachers’ unions, which bitterly protested the exclusion.

Before Prof Magoha received the report, he had attended a closed-door meeting with Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and religious leaders that explored ways of reopening the economy, including places of worship.

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