Kenyan parents ready for school reopening after COVID-19 break

  • World
  • Friday, 25 Sep 2020

NAIROBI, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- Some parents in Kenya are applying for loans, others are shopping for new uniforms while a good number are scouting for schools for their children as the east African nation readies to reopen learning institutions next month after the COVID-19 disruption.

Kenya will reopen schools next month in phases after a six-month break in accordance with anti-COVID-19 safety measures, according to George Magoha, the education cabinet secretary.

Students who were expected to sit for primary and secondary school exit exams at the end of this year would resume first.

With teachers ordered back to school from Sept. 28 to prepare for resumption of learning, it is just a matter of time before students start to troop to their places of learning.

Kenyan parents, especially those with pupils in upper classes in both primary and secondary schools, are thus preparing their children to return to school.

The preparation is at various levels that include psychologically, physically, financially and emotionally.

"Most children know that COVID-19 is a tough disease and it is the reason why they have stayed at home for long. The first time I told my son that they are going back to school, he curtly told me COVID-19 is still around," recounted Sheila Abuya, a parent with a class-six pupil.

Abuya said she talked to him about the measures the government has taken to protect them. Since then, she has been reinforcing the message and letting him practice safety measures.

"My son has been indoors since the outbreak of the disease, thus did not bother much about handwashing and wearing masks. But he must get used to them before he resumes school if he is to practice them," she said.

The mother of three has already approached her savings society for a school fees loan, so that she may be scheduled for funding.

"I have to buy new school uniforms for my children because what they have will not fit them after the six months break," said Gilbert Wandera, a businessman in Nairobi.

Alongside new uniforms, parents also have to buy face masks for their children, since they will be required to wear them all the time while in school to curb spread of the disease.

But even as they are ready for reopening of schools, some Kenyan parents are unlucky since their children have no school to return to, with the institutions having shut down due to COVID-19 challenges.

The worst affected are mainly private schools, some of which were shut down due to failure to pay rent or were auctioned due to debts.

Parents who had students in such schools must therefore shop for new institutions for their children.

Some owners of private schools, similarly, converted the institutions into farms and other businesses for survival, thus having to change usage before learners return.

Kenyan students will be going back to a totally new environment when schools reopen.

Under ministry of education protocols, students and teachers will maintain a social distancing of at least a meter in classrooms and halls of residence.

All schools will also be required to have graphic posters of COVID-19 preventive measures in classrooms for learners and staff to see and be reminded of what they should do.

And in the new school environment, all learners and staff shall wear age-appropriate facemasks at all times.

Akello Misori, the secretary general of the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers, noted that most parents, teachers and students are currently anxious as they prepare for resumption of learning.

He said that anxiety does not only stem from the fact that some parents may not have the money to take their children back to school due to challenges brought about by COVID-19 but also due to the new environment brought about by the disease.

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