Teachers fear exam marking centres could be ‘super spreader’
While the school academic term has come to a close, teachers are currently actively involved in examination supervision, invigilation and marking of the national examinations.
The threat of contracting the dreaded Covid-19 virus remains imminent with the constant travel and interactions of the teachers in the line of duty.
“The fear of getting infected is always at the back of my mind considering that the duties involve mixing with colleagues in the examination marking centres.
Fear is pervasive, but we must earn,” says Paul Wekesa, a secondary school teacher who is planning to travel to Nairobi from Bungoma county for the marking of Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations (KCSE).
Examiners will converge from all corners of the republic to various marking centres within Nairobi county for the three-week exercise. The exercise will commence from the last week of this month.
There are 18 KCSE marking centres, all within Nairobi metropolis in which about 30,000 teachers are expected to mark the exams. Previously, there were 15 marking centres, but they have been increased to control spread of Covid-19.
Last week, Kenya Union of Post Primary Education Teachers (Kuppet) Lugari branch called for decentralisation of marking centres to help curb the virus.
This concerns come even as Teachers Service commission (TSC) CEO Dr Nancy Macharia recently urged all teachers over 58 years to go for vaccinations as well as those to be involved in invigilating and marking the examinations.
“We urge all the 227,679 teachers who will be invigilating exams to be vaccinated.
Equally, all those travelling to Nairobi for marking of national examinations should seek Covid-19 vaccination the earliest possible,” observed Dr Macharia, while affirming that all necessary measures had been taken to ensure that the exercise is conducted in line with the Covid-19 protocols.
Already senior staff at the TSC, representatives of the Head Teachers Association and teachers’ trade unions have led the way in being vaccinated against the disease to dispel misinformation perpetuated by social media and other news outlets.
“The congestion that occurs at containers during collection and drop-off of examinations materials poses a high infection risk for teachers and vaccination will help build teachers’ confidence,” observed Johnson Nzioka, the chairman, Kenya Primary School Heads Association (Kepsha).
With the surge in infection cases, TSC has also urged teachers across Kenya to use telephone or online communication devices to access services instead of congregating in offices.
While there is no conclusive study conducted on teachers’ opinion on the vaccines, social media misinformation has increased reluctance on the part of some teachers.
“We need more leaders as well as opinion shapers to be vaccinated for more people, including teachers to develop confidence,” said Miriam Kerubo, a teacher in Kajiado county, who has been hesitant to take the jab.
Others, however, have taken the jab, “Available information has given me confidence that the vaccine is safe.
We expect some few complications here and there, but overall, the jab is safe and the only sure way of getting quick immunity,” said Charles Matu, a 54-year-old teacher who recently received the jab at Kajiado Referral Hospital.
Research done at the US based Centre for Disease Control (CDC) indicates that there is a greater chance of severe illness and death from Covid-19 among teachers and school staff due to occupational risk.
Evidence suggests that staff-to-staff transmission is more common than transmission from students to staff, staff to student, or student to student. “Educators play an important role in Covid-19 spreading.
The spread often occurs during in-person meetings or lunches and then subsequently spread to the classrooms,” observed Rochelle Walensky, a researcher at the CDC.
Further research has shown that most of the school infections are brought from the surrounding communities and then spread into the school setting.
- According to Teachers Service Commission (TSC) data, at least 41 teachers under its employment had succumbed to the disease by early March with others undergoing treatment after infection.
- Three of TSC staff at the secretariat have succumbed to the disease or complications related to the virus.
- Teachers are among those declared by the government as front-line personnel and have been prioritised for the first Covid-19 vaccination.
Original Source Website: : https://www.pd.co.ke/news/teachers-fear-exam-marking-centres-could-be-super-spreader-71602/