Since schools in Kenya reopened two weeks ago, 33 teachers and 17 students had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Wednesday, October 28.
Education Principal Secretary Dr. Belio Kipsang made the revelation when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Education Committee. He also disclosed that 4 non-teaching staff have contracted the virus.
Dr. Kipsang told Members of Parliament that 35 schools countrywide have reported COVID-19 cases. He however ruled out closure of schools unless otherwise advised.
“We are not about to close schools unless advised by the Ministry of Health, but we are putting our heads together to work our modalities of reopening other classes,” he said.
Dr. Kipsang said the biggest challenge is observing social distancing in public schools, adding that they would need to double school infrastructure if they were to achieve it.
The PS insisted that the Education ministry plans to mitigate that by providing water for regular washing of hands and ensuring students wear masks in schools.
At the same time, Kipsang told the Education Committee that the government will not buy masks for students and urged parents to assume responsibility.
He said they will partner with development partners to ensure students who cannot afford masks receive them.
Dr. Kipsang also put parents and politicians on the spot for frustrating efforts to curb the spread of the disease.
“Our challenge is our parents attending political rallies and other social gatherings without masks, let’s not blame our children, why tell us to achieve social distance in schools if parents are attending rallies without observing measures?” he posed.
The committee led by Chairperson and Busia Woman Representative Florence Mutua said while it is important for students to resume learning, the government must put in place adequate measures to ensure the safety of children before they are allowed back.