Kenyan schools to reopen fully in January amid soaring COVID-19 infections

 NAIROBI, Nov. 16  -- Kenya's ministry of education said on Monday that basic learning institutions will reopen fully in January, even as the country grapples with surging COVID-19 infections and fatalities.
   George Magoha, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Education said that full resumption of in-person learning on Jan. 4, 2021, will be accompanied by stringent measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.
   "I wish to assure the country that the government is determined to ensure a safe reopening and learning of our schools," Magoha said at a briefing in Nairobi.
   President Uhuru Kenyatta during his state of the nation address on Nov. 12 directed the ministry of education to come up with viable dates for resumption of in-person learning countrywide.
   He said that reopening of schools is key to boost the emotional and cognitive well-being of children and youth amid prolonged stay at home to help curb transmission of COVID-19.
   Kenya's basic and tertiary institutions of learning closed in mid-March after the first COVID-19 positive case was reported in the country, though partial reopening resumed in early October.
   So far, grade four pupils as well as primary and high school finalists have resumed physical learning amid reports of rising infections among students and tutors.
   Magoha said the government is keenly following the virus transmission's trends in schools in order to ensure that next year's full resumption of physical learning poses minimal threat to teachers and students.
   "We are drawing important lessons from the partial reopening that has taken place since October," said Magoha.
   "We are confident that we will remain on the right trajectory to finding the winning formula that will ensure our learning institutions are safe for learners and teachers," he added.
   Magoha said the academic calendar for learners who will report to school on Jan. 4 will end on March. 19 when examinations for primary and high school finalists are set to begin.
   "All learners, except class 8 and Form 4 candidates will proceed for a seven-week holiday to allow for examinations administration and marking," said Magoha.
   He said the ministry of education has engaged with key stakeholders to strengthen COVID-19 containment measures in basic learning institutions ahead of their full reopening in January.  Enditem