New rules to ensure social distancing when schools reopen are out. They are contained in a Ministry of Education document titled, ‘Guidelines on Health and Safety Protocols for Reopening of Basic Education Institutions Amid Covid-19 Pandemic.‘
An education committee is working against time to beat the Saturday, 19th September deadline when it is expected to submit the finer details for the school reopening plans.
According to the new rules, activities including learning and teaching will take place outside or in lecture halls. Institutions must create space between learners in enclosed rooms to prevent possible infections.
“Create physical distance between learners and place desks or working tables at least one metre apart from one another, and one metre apart from all doors to avoid any physical contact or air contamination,” the rules say.
Schools should also ensure that learners avoid holding or touching one another.
“Assemblies, inter-institution competitions, including games, drama, music, sports and other events that create crowded conditions, shall be suspended for the time being. Institutions will hold class mini-assemblies to pray, pass health messages, and make announcements.”
Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said that implementing the proposals in schools would be a challenge. He said that for every learner to lessen the spread of infections, the government would rely on the use of face masks
“We know that wearing masks among children will be a challenge but that will not stop us from moving forward. The more reason we must make sure that masks are made of the right material and good sizes. When schools reopen, learners will be equipped with two pieces of masks.”
To address the social distancing protocol, all classes must have working tables and desks arranged in rows to minimise contact between the learners. Sessions happening indoors should be conducted under proper ventilation to ensure clean air circulation.
During lessons, teachers should ensure enough spacing to ease movement between learners and teachers. The distance between learners should comply with the one- metre rule.
According to the guidelines, boarding schools will be optional, allowing parents to enrol their children in day schools to ensure their safety. The dormitories should have at least one-metre space between beds.
The guideline reads: “Use of double-decker beds must meet social distancing of at least one metre between each occupant. Toilets should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent the spread of infections.”
Teachers must also observe the one-metre rule in the offices and staff rooms.
“Staff meetings shall adhere to social distancing and where possible, staff shall explore other ways of communicating such as memos, mobile chats, text messages, and emails,” the rules say.
All educational institutions are expected to adhere to the new rules as reopening plans require maximum protection of the learners against Covid-19.
“All food handlers shall undergo asymptomatic screening for Covid-19 on a daily basis. Those with symptoms like fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and breathing difficulties should be allowed to seek medical attention.”