• Magoha called the first 14 days of school reopening vital in assessing how schools will cope during the coronavirus era.
• During this period, headteachers will identify gaps hampering learning and comfort and find solutions.
As learners and teachers adjust to new routines in the coronavirus era, headteachers are facing an even bigger task to prepare for full-scale reopening in less than a month.
Sparsely populated school hallways soon could be crowded after Education CS George Magoha announced plans to fully reopen by November. They closed in March because of Covid-19.
On Monday, Magoha termed the first 14 days of reopening vital in assessing how schools will cope during the coronavirus era.
During this period, greater responsibility will be borne by headteachers as they find gaps hampering learners' academics and comfort, find solutions and innovations to create opportunities.
School heads will be required to conduct a needs assessment of learners before embarking on regular teaching.
Schools will be required to keep records of sick learners and the contacts of their parents or guardians.
Without plans to test learners for coronavirus, the institutions will largely depend on signs and symptoms of infection to arrest emerging cases.
Magoha said learners will not be subjected to testing unless they are suspected to be positive.
Indimuli Kahi, head of the Kenya Secondary Schools Heads Association, said schools will monitor learners' health through established guidelines, temperature checks and observation of signs and symptoms.
Kahi said institutions will be required to provide weekly updates on their health situation, including if any learners have preexisting conditions and if any cases are suspected.
Those with higher temperatures will be sent to isolation rooms as the school prepares for testing.
Kahi admitted that identifying asymptomatic cases will be difficult.
“We will work with warning signs - an increase in body temperature, coughing and shortness of breath. But honestly, it is not possible to tell if a learner is positive or not if they show no symptoms," he said.
Headteachers will also monitor daily attendance by students and teachers and compare it with attendance before schools closed in March.
Kahi said this comparison will enable headteachers to identify gaps for entire schools, for classes, by gender and other dimensions of discrimination, such as disability, location (rural/urban), language group or ethnicity.
It will also inform the approach schools will use to track those yet to report back.
Kahi said teachers will record daily attendance and follow up on children absent for more than three consecutive days.
Disaggregation will be done by gender, disability and/or other criteria.
“This will make it simple for individual students to be tracked,” Kahi said, further noting principals will meet teachers weekly to review absenteeism.
To assist those who are absent, institutions will identify their vulnerabilities and needs and try to provide additional support for all children and young people to safely return to school, he said.
With seven months of the school calendar lost, school heads will also have to test learners to find out how far behind they are and how much they have forgotten since schools closed.
Schools will assess how much children have 'unlearned' and determine what kind of support is needed.
Initially, the assessment was expected to be conducted by the Kenya National Examination Council but consultations now favour localised assessment by each school.
"The assessment seeks to support students who have missed out on distance learning or fallen behind during school closures," Kahi said.
He said the gaps will be filled through remedial or catch-up classes.
The period will also be used to prepare movement systems of learners within schools, purchase furniture and recruit extra teachers.
(Edited by V. Graham)