The Ministry of Education has announced that all Universities, Colleges, Teacher Training Colleges (TTCs) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutions will be reopened in January 2021 due to the rapid spread of Coronavirus in the country.
In a statement, Education Cabinet Secretary Prof. George Magoha pointed out that spot checks by his Ministry had observed that many higher learning institutions in the country are have not put in place the necessary measures to protect its students as directed by the Ministry of Health and hence opening them for face to face sessions would be a public health catastrophe.
“The current COVID-19 situation in the country has kept worsening with an average number of new positive cases averaging 600 daily in the last one week. As of yesterday, the number of reported positive cases, stood at 19,125, some of them affecting start of universities and colleges. The University of Nairobi has already lost four staff as a result,” reads the statement.
The Ministry has directed universities to continue offering virtual learning, examinations and virtual graduations in strict adherence to the Commission on University Education (CUE) guidelines.
Prof. Magoha’s Ministry has also directed that priority be given to final year students to ensure that they have held graduations.
According to the Ministry, thus far only Dedan Kimathi University and Riara have held virtual graduations while Egerton University and the University of Nairobi are set to hold their virtual graduations in the coming months.
However, CS Magoha noted that it is possible for universities and colleges to be reopened this year, if the Ministry of Health advises its safe to do so and only if the institutions comply with the health safety measures.
“All institutions will continue making arrangements for reopening based on the provided guidelines and checklists. However authorization to reopen for face to face teaching, learning and research will be based on further guidance from the Ministry of Health based on the dynamics of preparedness,” said CS Magoha.
Further, the Ministry is looking at ways of supporting virtual learning by increasing allocations to the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to facilitate online learning.
In June, the Ministry had projected that universities and colleges would be reopened by September 1 and went ahead to issue guidelines that must have been adhered to before the reopening.
The institutions were directed to provide clean running water and soap for handwashing, sanitizers, ensure frequent cleaning and sanitization of frequently touched objects such as doorknobs, light switches, and stair railings with disinfectants.
Ensure adequate space for social distancing, enforce mandatory use of masks or face shields for learners, lecturers, and non-teaching staff and provide thermo guns for monitoring body temperature of all persons entering the public university and specific public spaces on campus.