The Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) are opposed to the partial opening of schools in the month of June for national examination candidates.

It is insensitive, pre-emptive, foolhardy and extremely wrong for anybody outside the medical profession or without medical expertise to propose the rushed reopening of schools in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic, especially at this period when the infernal virus is on the spiral, threatening the survival of humanity.

In the current context of escalating of the virus spread, where the number of affected is going up, the safety of teachers and children is paramount in the checklist of UNESCO-UNICEF recommendations as regards containment measures of the scourge.

A decision on reopening of the schools should be informed by an evidence-based analysis on critical information gathered on how schools, teachers, students and communities are coping with closures and the pandemic. Preliminary results from a rapid response survey rolled out by the signatory agencies indicate that the situation on the ground is different and might require more effective measures to be put in place before such action of reopening is undertaken. There is no evidence thus far put forth to inform how the risk factors related to reopening of schools will be mitigated, noting the inconclusive evidence around the infection risks related to school attendance.

Provision of Personal Protective Equipments [PPEs] among other containment measures are some of the conditionalities that the Ministry of Education Science and Technology must meet before education institutions are re-opened.

More importantly, medical experts must give the green light that the spread of the virus has been contained before we can think of reopening of schools for the resumption of learning.

It is worth noting that countries like France that have attempted to reopen schools have witnessed resurgence of the virus, in the process affecting many teachers and learners. British teachers’ unions have demonstrated clearly that it is difficult to enforce social distancing in schools.

Our team of medical experts which we have commissioned to give advice on the scourge have indicated clearly that if schools reopen in June with the low testing capacity in the country against the population of 15 million learners, the likelihood of having a surge in infections and a faster spread of Covid-19 would occur, with a possibility of Kenya witnessing additional 30,000 plus deaths by August 2020.

Logically and scientifically speaking, only doctors and other health experts could advice when schools should reopen, and how the process of resuming teaching and learning should be conducted.

Further, we would like to inform all-and-sundry that KNUT, KHRC, and UASU among other like-minded organizations and citizen agencies have teamed up to prepare a comprehensive, evidence-based, fact-driven parallel report with appropriate recommendations on the way forward on resuming learning and teaching in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic.

Consequently, we would like to state that we shall not make any submission to the exclusivist Prof George Magoha appointed team – COVID-19 National Education Response Committee led by Dr Sarah Ruto as it is a mere rubber stamp committee considering the manner in which it was constituted – it is bound to mislead Kenyans.

We have established a panel of eminent doctors led by Prof Florentius Koech of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital – Eldoret to work with us to develop a report on reopening of schools, and how educational institutions can be made Covid - 19 Free Zones at all times.

We shall release the report at the appropriate time, and accordingly advise our members, parents and the general public on the way forward.

HON. WILSON SOSSION         GEORGE KEGORO                  DR. CONSTANTINE WASONGA

SECRETARY GENERAL           EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR         SECRETARY GENERAL

KNUT                                         KHRC                                       UASU

 

May 21, 2020.