August 3, 2021

Face Masks Challenge in School Reopening

Candidates Frere Town Primary School in class without masks(Photo Salma Athman}

BY SALMA ATHMAN MZUNGU 

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Lack of facemasks among school-going children has adversely affected their classes’ attendance in Kisauni Constituency of Mombasa County. 

Survey on the ground indicates that half of Frere Town Secondary School’s learners have not been attending classes for lack of facemasks. 

Mr Lawrence Nzai, the principal, says since the schools were opened for the examination classes the teaching staff has been experiencing fluctuation of school attendance. 

“As teachers, we are ready to cover the syllabus before the Form Four students sits for their final exams before we are facing challenges with our learners’ school attendance,” he adds. 

However, he assured that they are doing what they can to improve the attendance by liaising with the parents to see the essence of providing their children with facemasks instead of keeping them at home because of the same. 

But in the adjacent school, Frere Town Primary School, the situation was different with teachers and pupils in full attendance of classes with facemasks and observing all the COVID-19 measures as directed by the government. 

Lucy Oyuke, the headteacher, says the early reporting of the teaching staff helped her in the preparations of the school into welcoming the Grade 4 and Standard Eight pupil. 

“Apart from this, the kazi mtaani youth also helped us in clearing bush, grass cutting, dusting and classrooms’ cleaning among other chores,” she adds. 

Principal Frere Town Secondary School Mr Lawrence Nzai, (Photo Salma Athman)

CHALLENGES 

She concedes having a facemask challenge but they have impressed upon the parents to ensure they provide their children with the protective device so as not to fail attending school for the completion of the syllabus in readiness for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE). 

“Wearing face masks, washing hands and observing social distance are always drummed to the pupils to ensure the spread of the coronavirus within the school is under lock and key,” she says.

Some Frere Town Primary school Students in class without masks (Photo Salma Athman)

The Ministry of Education allowed learners in grade 4, class 8 and form 4 to report to school on October 12, 2020 with teachers reporting two weeks earlier in preparation for national exams – KCPE and KCSE – slated for March 22-25, 2021 and March 24 – April 16, 2021 respectively.  

Asked about learning under COVID-19 protocols, a Frere Town Secondary School student 

Samson Fondo admits it was difficult but they have taught the importance wearing facemasks, washing hands and keeping their distance so as not to contract the coronavirus. 

According to him the unprecedented long stay of seven months from school has negatively affected him academically but was optimistic all-will-end-well. 

Contacted for comments, Kwach Africa official Joseck Mwanzio said through free wifi residents of Bombolulu area have been able to benefit from the online teaching by teachers and learning institutions. 

Principal Frere Town Primary School (Photo Salma Athman)

“Through this platform, we have been able to reach out to many schools in Mombasa County to inculcate life skills, education, career choice and mentorship sessions,” he says. 

Maweni Bombolulu area chief Said Shume says he will take stock of primary and secondary schools within his jurisdiction to see how they are coping with the COVID-19 protocols. 

Instead of sending the children back home, the local administrator is of the view that the parents be called to schools to explain themselves and their predicaments so that together with the school administration they can find solutions. 

“Pupils readying for national exams are better off at school than at home so schools’ heads should device ways of dealing with parents to ensure their children do not miss lessons because of COVID 19 protocols,” he said. 

Frere Town MCA Charles Kitula says he is working to provide sanitizers and facemasks for all schools in need of the essential protective gears to curb the spread of the global pandemic. 

In his November 12, 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that all the remaining learners would resume classes on January 4, 2021 amid uncertainty about how the Covid-19 pandemic would pan out. 

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