Secondary schools teachers have now developed reservations over the use of schools as Covid-19 quarantine centres. Through their representatives the Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers, Kuppet, the tutors are demanding for ‘a review on the use of learning institutions as quarantine centres.’
“The government’s recent announcement that secondary schools around the country would be used as isolation centres has created widespread alarm. Many local communities are apprehensive that the use of institutions close to them will bring COVID-19 to their areas. Indeed, in some areas, local leaders have expressed opposition to the use of their schools to host people suspected of having COVID-19,” Kuppet Secretary General Akelo Misori via an internal memo dated April 7, 2020.
A number of schools, mostly in the secondary section, have been identified and prepared in all counties to be utilized as Covid-19 isolation centres; with the government directing that each county to have at-least 20 centres.
Whereas Kuppet says it has no objection with the move by the Government to utilize select schools, the union says all stake holders should be considered before such a move is implemented.
“To allay widespread fears and win over the trust of communities, the government must engage all stakeholders – including school Boards of Management, local leaders and teachers’ unions – in an honest, transparent and accountable dialogue about it intends to use the schools,” Misori advises.
Among Kuppet’s requirements is the suggestion that selected schools be used only to house persons isolated from health institutions within the county. Thus, there should be no cross county transfers of individuals supposed to be quarantined.
Below are other demands by Kuppet, as contained in the memo:
- That Sub-County Directors of Education, Sub-County Directors of the Teachers Service Commission and Health officials will brief school Boards of Management, Principals and local
union officials on the procedures to be used in isolation persons.
- The principals, support staff and other persons who will come into contact with the isolated persons will be provided with sufficient protective gear, such as N95 masks, disinfectants, gumboots and gloves which they need to protect themselves from COVID-19.
- The Ministry of Health will provide for the upkeep of the isolated persons in terms of bedding, food and other essentials. Where school resources are used for that purpose, the government will reimburse the institutions.
- The Ministry of Health will avail officers to check on the health of the isolated persons on a daily basis and take infected persons to medical facilities as soon as their infection is proven.
- Principals and other workers to handle the isolated persons will be taken through induction and be psychologically prepared for the intense work involved in handling COVID-19 patients and isolated persons. Such psychological support should also be provided at the end of the quarantine process.
- Immediately the isolated persons finish their quarantine period, the Ministry of Health should comprehensively fumigate the institutions and sterilize all facilities the isolated persons shall have used during their stay in the institutions.
Kuppet’s latest move follows a dissenting opinion also raised by the sister union, Knut (Kenya National Union of Teachers). Last week Knut Boss Wilson Sossion rejected the proposal to use boarding secondary schools as Covid-19 isolation centres. “We plead with the Government to drop the option of using boarding school facilities in treating victims of Covid 19 due to post-corona stigma that will affect the management of schools,” he said.
Hon. Sossion was also quick to oppose suggestions to postpone this year’s national examinations (Kcse and Kcpe exams); that are slated for November/ December; according to the time tables released by Knec earlier in the year. “The Government should not entertain such a proposal but work towards early resumption of normalcy to business in all learning institutions,” said Sossion in a statement.
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