Don't rush Rift school reopening — bishops and imams

Masks for schools to cost Sh1.6 billion; each primary and secondary school learner to get two reusable masks.

In Summary

• Chairman of  imams Abubakar Bini and chairman of bishops and pastors Wilson Kurui said the government unable  to control spread of the virus in schools and counties ill- prepared to handle Covid-19 crisis.

• Government preparing to supply more than 22 million masks to schools by mid-August in readiness for expected  September reopening.

Education CS George Magoha (R) examining masks produced at Rivatex in Eldoret on June 22.
MASKS: Education CS George Magoha (R) examining masks produced at Rivatex in Eldoret on June 22.

Bishops and imams in Rift Valley on Monday warned the government against rushing to reopen schools in September, saying the number of Covid-19 cases is rising.

Imams’ chairman Abubakar Bini and bishops and pastors’ chairman Wilson Kurui said separately the government will not be able to control the spread of the coronavirus in schools.

They said counties are ill-prepared to handle the Covid-19 crisis.


Bini said the government should only reopen schools when the spread of the coronavirus is under control.

“We all would like normalcy so our children are back in schools. But the government should carefully handle the proposal to reopen schools because protection of lives is of greater importance than anything else,” Bini said.

Bishop Kurui said considering the increasing cases, it might not be possible to reopen schools but the government should continue putting in place virus-control measures in anticipation of school reopening.

CEO of the Rift Valley Textile (Rivatex) company in Eldoret Thomas Kipkurgat said the company had agreed with the Education ministry to produce face masks for schools at Sh35 per piece, instead of the market price of more than Sh50 per piece.

The cost of school masks is expected to be Sh1.6 billion.

“We are a government institution and we do not want to profiteer from Covid-19. The government has agreed to pay the minimum cost of producing the masks to keep our children safe," Kipkurgat said.

Each primary and secondary school learner will get two reusable masks.


Kipurgat said the company is already producing masks for use by all Kenyans.

Rivatex, which is owned by Moi University, produces more than 80,000 masks daily and so far has made 3.5 million pieces used in various parts of the country.

Education CS George Magoha led a team of experts and education officials on a tour of Rivatex last week. He said more than 22 million masks will be supplied ahead of school reopening.

Magoha said the Education and Health ministries are considering the type and quality of masks needed for younger and older children. Experts are studying prototypes.

He said Rivatex, the National Youth Service and the Kitui textile firm will produce the masks.

Ministry officials and experts were still debating if the pre-primary 1 and 2 children will be required to wear masks. “We will reach a consensus, perhaps it may be not to wise mask them,” Magoha said last week.

(Edited by V. Graham)