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Nerves and Excitement as Kenyan Learners Return to Class

Millions of mask-wearing pupils in Kenya have returned to school nine months after they were closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The learners’ temperatures were checked and they were required to use sanitiser before entering classrooms. But Kenya’s National Union of Teachers’ say that the return to school plan was “inadequate”. Government has not released funds to schools to buy thermometers, sanitisers and other items required to implement the health protocols. Education Minister George Magoha has especially been criticised for suggesting that schools should consider learning under trees as a way of avoiding overcrowding in classes. Some said the minister was expressing a cavalier attitude towards public schools which, compared to private ones, often have fewer resources to cater for their huge pupil population. Apart from pupils in their final year, who returned to school late in 2020, those in other grades will repeat the academic year. Kenya has reported almost 97,000 cases of Covid-19 and more than 1,600 deaths since the start of the outbreak in March last year. Over the weekend President Uhuru Kenyatta extended an overnight curfew until March to help prevent the spread of the virus.