Millions of Kenyan pupils returned to school yesterday for the first time since classes were dismissed 10 months earlier due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mask-wearing students had their temperatures checked before entering school to repeat their lost academic year, in what was both a relief and a concern to their parents.
“As a parent I am pleased that the children are back in school,” said mother Hildah Musimbi. “At the moment we have got a lot of fear because we really don’t know if other children in school have the virus or even if the teachers have the virus, or even if the support staff in school have the virus.”
Kenya shut schools in March 2020 when the new coronavirus arrived in the country, and partially re-opened to select classes in October.
All primary and high school students returned yesterday, while universities and colleges were free to open and would do so on varying dates.
“We are happy to be back in school, that was a long break,” Mercy Nderi, a pupil at Kasarani Primary School in Nairobi said. Teachers turned back students who were not wearing facemasks, while struggling to maintain social distancing in crowded classrooms.
“It is difficult because we don’t have sufficient desks to ensure we keep children one metre (yard) away from each other but we are trying our best,” said Mvurya Mumbia, a headteacher at Voi Primary School. When schools were partially re-opened in October, there was a spike in Covid-19 cases, with pupils and teachers falling ill and at least one school principal dying.
Kenya has had almost 97,000 cases and over 1,600 deaths since the start
of the outbreak.
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