Marching to their schools wearing colorful uniforms nearly after nine months, streets in the East African country of Kenya were swarmed with students on Monday morning.
Anxious parents, who were seen accompanying their children were still worried about their safety as the country continues to report COVID-19 infections.
Schools across the capital Nairobi were seen putting up safety measures, checking the temperatures of students at the entrance.
After visiting a few schools, Anadolu Agency found that school authorities had put up sanitizing machines, clean water, and made facemasks mandatory for entering into the premises. Teachers and students have been asked to wear facemasks all the time.
The classrooms were also looking different, with spaces between the desks to ensure social distancing, besides ensuring aeration in classrooms. The school vehicles carrying students were operating at half capacity as per the Health Ministry regulations.
The schools have been asked to desist arranging any extracurricular activity involving sports, music, or any other gathering involving more than one school for the next 90 days.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Cecilia Mwangi, a mother said the government should not have reopened the schools.
“We have suffered as parents have no money to buy books, bear bus fare, cost of masks, and sanitizers. We are not sure of the safety of our kids in schools. I am worried but I have to obey the government and take my child to school,” she said.
As many people in the country are complaining about job losses due to pandemics and restrictions, many parents told Anadolu Agency that they are unable to afford school expenses and new school uniforms and fees.
“We have not worked for a year. We were confined to our homes. How are we to support our children to go back to school,” said Joan Kerubo, a parent.
But the children were excited to return to school. Mwangi’s 14-year old son Chrispus Mwangi, studying in Moi Avenue Primary school said staying at home had been too boring.
“I missed my friends and teacher and I am happy to be going back to schools,” he said.
School authorities were also complaining that COVID-19 related guidelines are too ambitious to follow.
At a mixed school in Kiambaa, teachers had put up classrooms under the trees and in corridors, as adequate rooms are not available on the premises. Parents and teachers were demanding the construction of additional classrooms, so they can enforce social distancing norms.
Education Minister George Magoha has assured that authorities will provide 500,000 desks and ensure three million children possess masks.
“Social distancing will remain a challenge but it will not stop us from opening schools. Every open space in schools can be used as classrooms, learning under a tree is extremely healthy, “he said.
Lack of water, power, and ablution facilities is haunting most schools in the Kenyan capital. Parents complained that there is unpreparedness on the part of the government and it has put their children at risk.