The government is impressed by the elaborate measures that schools in Nairobi County have put in place to curb any possible spread of the COVID 19 virus within schools even as they gear for complete student turn over.
The availability of clean running water for handwashing and soaps at water points, additional makeshift learning spaces in the libraries as well as dining rooms for social distancing purposes and established isolation centers are some of the areas that were noted by the government officials as commendable.
Ministry of ICT, State Department of, Broadcasting and Telecommunications Principal Secretary Mrs.Esther Koimett, during the second day of a high level government tour of schools in Nairobi County on a program dubbed “Operation Back to School”, affirmed government’s satisfaction at how school heads were handling the new COVID normal since the schools opened on the 4th of January 2021.
“This is encouraging that school heads have gone above their limits to ensure that Ministry of health guidelines are adhered to within schools to prevent the spread of COVID 19 among learners. This is laudable” said the PS.
Koimet commended the schools and was categorical that she was satisfied with what she saw, adding that the government will support needy learners with masks as well as improve social amenities in schools to ensure that learners are safe, just as promised by Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha.
“We will do our best to complement the good work to assist the government in containing the virus especially in schools,” she noted.
Koimet further stated that the high level national exercise was specifically initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta to ensure that all learners are settled in schools regardless.
Koimet and her counterpart Correctional Services Principal Secretary Mrs Zainab Hussein visited Olympic Primary School on Friday and commended the schools for establishing proper water points as well as ensuring that learners all adorned their masks as a preventive measure from contracting the deadly various that is a global pandemic.
Olympic Primary School, one of the biggest primary schools in the Country with a population of about 4500 is one such school which has demonstrated optimism on how to handle students amid COVID.
The schools had thermo guns at the gate used for monitoring pupil temperatures as they came in schools, high emphasis put on wearing masks as well as several handwashing points, with the major challenge being achieving social distancing due to the high population.
The school reported that 395 pupils were yet to report to schools and would do follow ups to ensure that the gap is closed in due course as the term unfolds.
The government early in the week deployed seven teachers to the school with the school still having a shortage of 48 teachers due to its big population.
On Thursday, Energy Principal Secretary Joseph Njoroge visited Jacaranda Special School and Beth Mugo High school respectively with the latter being a beneficiary of lockers and chairs issued by the government.
Njoroge who is the lead team in the Nairobi, Kiambu and Muranga tour chapter had noted that as government they are committed in ensuring that pupils are safe while in schools and that they will support them as and when they need help.
Beth Mugo High School Principal Madam Emily Masele said that the school has partitioned the school’s dining hall and computer lab to use as classes in a bid to maintain social distance among students.
“The school has enough washing points and thermo guns. We have received 1000 reusable masks in a Nyumba Kumi program and they were issued to the students,” she said.
Moi Avenue primary Head teacher Madam Ruth Chirchir, confirmed that the school had received desks from the government and they will try to ensure the students are spaced well.
Others present during the visit included Nairobi Regional Commissioner (RC) James Kianda and Nairobi County Commissioner Flora Mworoa.
RC Kianda on his part called on the learners to be ambassadors even at home in the fight against COVID 19.
Kianda stated that Nairobi county has linked all the schools with health workers who will be in contact with the schools from time to time offering the required guidance as well as ensuring that they followed the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health which includes wearing masks and washing of hands among others.
“Apart from sensitizing teachers on how to handle students in the new normal, students have also been urged to be good ambassadors to the fight against COVID 19,” he said.
Other schools visited by the High level delegation included Pangani Girls, Garden Estate Secondary School, Mukuru Community Centre, Ndururuno Primary School, and Mathare Special Training Centre among others.
An estimated 16 million Kenyan children have reported back to schools since the reopening on Monday after staying at home for at least nine months since Kenya recorded the first case COVID 19.
Concerns however continue to be raised on the capacity of schools to contain any outbreak of the virus in lieu of the massive population as well as inadequate infrastructure attributed to free primary education rollout.
By Alice Gworo