By HSE East Africa | Saturday May 23, 2020
The Workplace Safety Professionals Association in Kenya has pledged to provide free awareness training to learning institutions to build the capacity of teachers and other staff in handling occupational hazards including pandemics.
The association which brings together experts in occupational safety and health from across the country also recommends that all the learning institutions should be inspected by non-governmental institutions and issued with a certificate of hygiene and safety before the schools can reopen.
In the recommendations sent to the Covid-19 School Reopening Task force, the association notes that the schools are workplaces with employees, learners and visitors likely to interact hence the need to strike a balance between mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and providing the service of education in these institutions.
Other recommendations by the association include staggered reopening of the schools with grade 6-8 and Form 3-4 resuming in July to October and the rest of the classes resuming in November to February 2021 with a break in December. The Class 8 and Form 4 examinations would be scheduled for end of October and intake of Form 1 be delayed to March 2021 to allow the other classes complete the final term.
Masks used by day scholars as they come to school should be removed and stored / disposed at the school entrance. The association however suggests that usage of masks during lessons may have negative effects and should be evaluated. Students will be required to maintain at least one-meter sitting distance in the classrooms.
To facilitate the day scholars who rely on public transport to get to school, the association recommends that that government vehicles including those of National Youth Service, Kenya Prisons and other government institutions be used to ferry the students where possible.
WSPA proposes that boarding schools should accommodate non-teaching staff, limit visitors and ban any events that would attract visitors into the schools. All boarding facilities and classrooms are to be fumigated daily and washrooms disinfected. In addition, all boarding facilities should have a dedicated matron/nurse.
Noting the financial implications of implementing the recommended measures, the association proposes that the government should subsidize the essential commodities such as disinfectants.
The Covid-19 Education Response Committee chaired by Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development Chairperson Sarah Ruto has been receiving written memoranda from education stakeholders on ways to restore normalcy in the basic education sector’s academic calendar.