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Covid-19 takes toll on learning as schools cancel key events

Sunday March 15 2020

Magoha and Kipsang

Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha (L) with Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang at a past function. PHOTO |FILE | NATION MEDIA GOROUP 

DAVID MUCHUNGUH
By DAVID MUCHUNGUH
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OUMA WANZALA
By OUMA WANZALA
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Education has already started feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with programmes disrupted or suspended in measures meant to curb its spread.

While announcing that Kenya has recorded its first case of Covid-19 on Friday morning, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe spelt out a raft of safety measures, key among them the suspension of interschool activities for 30 days, though schools will remain in session.

Education CS George Magoha followed up the announcement with a circular suspending “with immediate effect, all gatherings, meetings and events” at schools and other institutions.

GENERAL MEETINGS

Also suspended are intra/inter-school and institutional events, annual general meetings, thanksgiving and prize-giving ceremonies and education and visiting days.

Prof Magoha directed institutions of learning to avoid “all non-essential travel including school trips”.

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He asked schools to observe safety measures like washing hands with soap and avoiding “any physical contact such as handshaking or hugging”.

The CS also directed learners who may exhibit fever, cough, difficulty in breathing and other symptoms to immediately seek medical attention.

Schools, colleges and universities were deep into preparations for various co-curricular activities this term, with some already underway.

COMPETITIONS

Primary schools, which have the majority of learners, were preparing for athletics competitions whose national finals would have been held in Embu County from April 13 to 18.

They were expected to attract about 800 participants and thousands of spectators and officials.

From April 14 to 22, Machakos County was to host the Special Needs Primary Schools National Athletics championships, with about 1,200 participants expected.

Still in athletics, the national athletics trials are scheduled to take place at the Kasarani Sports Complex from June 18 to 21, with the World Under 20 Athletics Championship slated for July 7 to 12. It is not yet clear if the event will be delayed. Many primary and secondary school learners are expected to represent Kenya.

The biggest co-curricular event of the year — the National Drama and Film Festival — had already begun at the grassroots level and more than 15,000 participants were expected to meet in Mombasa from April 13 to 24 for the national finals.

FESTIVALS
Kenya National Drama Festivals chairman Christopher Odhiambo said the drama committee is yet to come up with a new calendar for the festivals, something it usually prepares with the Ministry of Education.

“The earliest we can get the information on the way forward will be on Monday. Nairobi and Mombasa have already had their regional festivals. The other regions were to begin their theirs this weekend,” Prof Odhiambo said.

Secondary school games — basketball, hockey, rugby 15s and Sevens, swimming, handball and athletics — that were also underway remain suspended.

Kapsabet Boys and Girls schools were to host the approximately 1,900 participants for the nationals from April 14 to 23.
Moi Girls Eldoret was to host the Special Secondary Schools National Athletics championships from April 14 to 22.
The last event to have been affected by the suspension is the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair, which was also underway in counties.

SUSPENDED CLASSES

The best 800 exhibitors and presenters would have competed in Kisumu from April 13 to 18.

The Kenya University Sports Association suspended sporting activities “until advised otherwise”.
Africa Nazarene University has suspended on-campus classes from March 16 and asked students to check out of the hostels until further notice.
The Covid-19 victim is said to have stayed in Ongata Rongai, where the main campus of the university is.
“Consequently, end of January trimester examinations … will be rescheduled to a later date,” read a statement from Vice-Chancellor Stanley M Bhebhe.

Riara University VC Robert Gateru postponed the graduation that was to take place on March 19, 2020.