Up to 70 per cent Kenyans are opposed to reopening of schools in September, for fear of a spike in coronavirus infections among children.
A survey released by Infotrak over the weekend showed that Kenyans do not support reopening before the pandemic is contained.
According to the report, majority of those who oppose reopening of schools in September (41 per cent) expressed fear that the rate of Covid-19 infection is likely go up.
“Twenty one per cent of the respondents said the chances of children contracting the virus in school and spreading it is very high,” said Mr Walter Nyabundi, the Special Projects and Loyalty Research manager at Infotrak Research and Consulting.
Of the respondents, 15 per cent expressed fear that social distancing, which is one of the main measures to curb spread of the coronavirus, in schools may not be possible.
“Children are likely to remove their masks now and again while flaunting the social distancing rule thus they require regular supervision from adults but considering the ratio of teachers to pupils in most Kenyan schools, supervision could be very challenging,” the survey adds.
Many of the respondents (eight per cent) said that the increasing number of cases is proof that the virus is yet to be controlled in the country while six per cent said the worst of the pandemic may not have hit the country yet, and so, reopening of schools will not be ideal.
Another six per cent expressed doubts that schools can keep children safe in their premises.
58 per cent of the respondents said they had to ensure their children are wearing masks while playing with others at home while 53 per cent said they had to supervise their kids’ games to ensure they wear masks and also keep a social distance.
“If schools are reopened, teachers will have the task to look after the children, and apparently, they will be overwhelmed because most schools have an unmanageable number of children,” it adds.
During his recent address his Madaraka Day speech, President Uhuru Kenyatta asked the Education and Health ministries to chart the path towards reopening the institutions of learning.
“Education sector should finalise the consultations to give us an appropriate calendar for the schools to guarantee not only the safety of children but also parents. This disease is here with us and every Kenyan must take the responsibility to ensure that all is well,” the president said.
The Education Ministry is expected to start gradual reopening of schools from September 1 while a new learning calendar should be ready by Mid-August 2020.
The Ministry of Health has projected that the rate of Covid-19 infection is likely to peak in August-September.
The research revealed that a good number of children (42 per cent) do not wear masks when they go out to play together, while 50 per cent do not observe social distancing. Many children (66 per cent) no longer go out to play as they used to before the outbreak.