Second Wave of Covid-19 exposes our unpreparedness in reopening schools (Pulse Editorial)

Was it really necessary to reopen schools?

68 students, 5 teachers test positive for Covid-19 in Bahati Girls

The Covid-19 numbers have been on a constant rise since President Uhuru Kenyatta relaxed measures put in place to control the widespread of the deadly virus, a few months ago.

Before the reopening of the country, Kenya was walking towards flattening the curve, with the percentage of daily infections dropping drastically. This projection is what prompted the education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha to order the reopening of schools for class 8, form 4 candidates as well as grade 4 pupils.

Today, our Pulse Editorial piece is out to seek answers on if it was really necessary to reopen schools, allowing our children to go back to class again amidst the pandemic.

Were the schools really prepared to receive students? Were the teachers well equipped to handle our children? And were the learners themselves ready to adjust to the new normal? Ensuring that their masks are on the whole day, maintaining social distance, sanitizing and at the same time concentrating on their books.

These are just a few questions that we need to ask ourselves as Kenyans, in the process of assessing if we made a blunder by sending the kids back to school.

During the 13th State of the Nation Address on Covid-19, President Kenyatta made it clear that those in school will remain there and those at home will resume studies come January Next year.

“Learning to continue for candidates under heightened safety measures. Other students will resume learning in January 2021,” said Uhuru.

In the month of October alone, more than 15 thousand people have tested positive for Covid and the numbers continue to scale upwards.

“…In October alone, we had over 15,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 300 deaths. We are now staring at a new wave of this pandemic. We have to ask where we went wrong and what we could have done differently… A lot has changed since we re-opened the country… 38 days later, we have experienced a serious reversal of the gains we had made…COVID-19 bed occupancy has gone up by 140%. The positivity rate is 16% in October, 4 times what it was in September,” noted Kenyatta.

Out of this positive figures, we have students, teachers and subordinate staff who have contracted the disease within the one month of reopening schools.

For instance, 62 students in Bahati Girls (Nakuru) are positive, Kolanya Boys has 52 cases, Kamusinga Boys 11, Kimilili Boys 6 and these are just but a few. The number increases when we count the number of teachers and other subordinate staff in the above named schools.

Something noticeable in all these schools with the Positive cases, is that learning has stopped and the attention directed towards taking care of students who have contracted the virus. Some have even been turned into quarantine and isolation facilities.

So, Again I will ask, was it really necessary to reopen schools? The spike in the cases is a clear indication that most schools are not ready to adhere to the ministry of health directives in fighting the virus.

Looking at the numbers and the unpredictability of the novel Coronavirus in terms of its spread, one will say it was not safe to send kids back to school.

These are people who need to be reminded from time to time to: wash their hands, put their masks on and social distance but we decided to gamble with their lives.

It's still not too late to make an about turn and welcome back home our kids so that we can take care of the children ourselves until we are really sure it's safe for the school going kids.

To Prof. Magoha, stop the rush with school reopening and focus on putting in logistics that will ensure our kids are safe, education is going nowhere. As a matter of fact, we have wasted a whole year trying to keep safe and survive, let’s not allow our efforts to go down the drain in the name of keeping up with the education calendar. We can always adjust our school reopening calendar but we cannot adjust our kids when they die.

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