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Magoha: Schools could reopen earlier than January 2021

Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha now says the government is deliberating over the reopening of schools earlier than the planned January 2021 date should the COVID-19 curve in the country flatten.

Speaking in Migori County, where he toured various learning institutions to evaluate their state of preparedness for COVID-19 emergency, the minister said the number of new coronavirus infections have been on a downward spiral in the recent past, prompting a possible review of 2020/2021 education calendar.

“Our intention as government is to ensure schools are reopened as early as yesterday. However, the bottom-line is our children should be safe when schools reopen. As a ministry, we are doing everything possible, including installation of hand-washing stations and sanitizer dispensers in schools. We’ll go to the extent of providing face masks, where possible,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

Addressing journalists at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) Headquarters in Nairobi, the CS said basic learning institutions will reopen in January 2021. Prof. Magoha further said that the 2020 KCPE exams will be held “later in 2021”.

The minister, however, remained silent on the fate of KCSE exams, which are assumed will also be held in 2021. He further directed the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) to republish new examination dates

On July 30, 2020 Magoha announced that college and university students will have to stay longer at home after the Ministry of Education resolved to have face-to-face classes resume in January 2021, and not from September this year as had earlier been planned.

Magoha said the pushing back of the tertiary institutions’ academic calendar was arrived at after closely evaluating the COVID-19 infections pattern in Kenya.

“A survey of all Teacher Training Colleges, universities and TVET institutions has shown that few of them have put in place necessary measures to comply with the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 protocols that can guarantee safety of staff and learners once they reopen,” he said.

“Universities should continue offering virtual learning, examinations and virtual graduations but in strict adherence and observance to quality measures set by the Commission for University Education.”

Kenya as of Monday, August 25, 2020 had registered 32, 803 COVID-19 cases, with 559 deaths recorded and 19,055 recoveries sufficed.

For the past one week, the number of new COVID-19 infections have been declining, with the lowest fresh infections in recent past — 193 — recorded on Monday, August 24 out of a sample size of 3,381. A day earlier, 246 new cases were discovered in 4,179 samples. This pattern, prompted the Acting Director-General of Health, Dr. Patrick Amoth, to state Kenya has made significant progress in the war against COVID-19.

“For the past one week or so, you have noticed a decreasing positivity rate, which as of today stands at 6 per cent. That tells you we are making progress, but we have not hit the magical 5 per cent which we need to hit and sustain for two weeks before we can actually say we are flattening the curve,” said Dr. Amoth.

“So, the next three to four weeks will be critical to determine whether we have hit the magical 5 per cent. If we sustain that positivity rate, then we can conclusively say we have flattened the curve, and, therefore, we can be able to lift the remaining COVID-19 containment measures,” said Dr. Amoth.

Positivity rate is gotten by dividing the number of new infections with the sample size and thereafter multiplying the result by 100. The World Health Organization (WHO) says when the positivity rate is below 5 per cent for at least 14 days, then a country is said to have flattened the COVID-19 curve.

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