MOMBASA, Kenya Jan 4 – Mombasa County government has launched the distribution of over 177,800 free face masks to all public primary and secondary schools in the region as schools reopened in the country following a 10-month break over COVID-19.
The county has 92 registered public primary schools and 23 public secondary schools.
Pauline Oginga, the County’s Public Health Chief Officer, said they were working with the sub-county education officers to distribute the face masks to the children.
“We have launched the exercise in Mikindani, for all the schools in the west of Mombasa, we are now heading to Likoni for all public schools in that area,” said Oginga.
She said during the December Holidays, the county distributed some 320 hand-washing facilities to all the public schools in the region.
Schools in Kenya were closed in March 2020 when the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the country but they were reopened partially in October 2020 for Form 4, Class 8 candidates and Grade 4.
At Star of the Sea Primary School, the school management said it had ensured social distancing was observed and every child has their face masks on.
At Ganjoni Primary, the school board of management said, it had ensured all the Ministry of Health protocols to combat COVID-19 are followed.
Margaret Olang, a member of the school board, said they cannot admit any more pupils.
“Before COVID-19, one class had almost 70 pupils, we cannot admit any more pupils if we are to observe social distancing,” she said.
A spot check by Capital FM News shows that both public and private schools had resumed even though there were various challenges encountered, including transport crisis as learners traveled back to school to and from upcountry.
“We have been waiting for a vehicle to Nairobi since morning and we can’t get any,” said Vitallis Oduor, a parent who was with his two children at the Eldoret main bus stage, “we are appealing to the government to allow public service vehicles to carry their normal capacity because this is the main case of this challenge.”
“We are happy to be back in school, that was a long break,” a pupil at Kasarani Primary School in Nairobi said.
In some schools, teachers were turning back learners who had no facemasks.
Headteachers in most schools said they were facing challenges in maintaining social distancing in class due to inadequate desks.
“It is difficult because we don’t have sufficient desks to ensure we keep children one meter away from each other but we are trying our best,” said Mumbia, a headteacher at Voi Primary School.