NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 3- The Government has announced a robust transport plan to facilitate the movement of learners as schools reopen Monday.
This includes an enhanced train schedule to ease pressure on the public transport sector as learners travel back to school across the country for in-person learning which was suspended in March 2020 due to COVID-19.
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said there will be additional trains to Nairobi and from Mombasa from Monday.
“We cannot be discussing about our kids being in school without discussing how they will get to school,” he said, “We want to make sure that the movement of children to school is seamless and that is why we must have more trains. We are urging matatu operators to cooperate.”
Macharia also warned public transport operators against taking advantage of the situation to hike fares because “We appreciate that parents are coming from a very difficult period whereby they are constrained financially.”
Macharia also said 1,500 learners and parents will be ferried through the Nairobi- Nanyuki railway line. Kenya Railways will also avail additional trains within the Nairobi Metropolitan.
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.
Full scale resumption of in-person learning will be resuming on Monday under tight COVID-19 regulations which require learners and teachers to wear masks and sanitize or wash hands regularly to curb infections.
An academic calendar issued by the Ministry of Education shows that Pre-Primary 1 and 2; Grade 1, 2 and 3; Class 5, 6 and 7; and Form 1, 2 and 3 learners will start their Term 2 on 4th January, 2021 and end on 19th March 2021 together with the Grade 4 and candidate classes (Class 8 and Form 4) who opened last year in October.
All other learners except Class 8 and Form 4 candidates due for Kenya National Examination Council (KNEC) assessments will proceed for a 7-week holiday to allow for KCPE and KCSE examinations administration and marking.
The Transport Ministry on Sunday said it was working closely with the public health department in the Ministry of Health and the police to restore sanity on the roads.
“We have also made sure these drivers will not drive for long distances to avoid getting fatigued,” he said.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sunday extended the dusk to dawn curfew, which starts at 10pm to 4am, as well as other COVID-19 containment measures up to March 12.
He also suspended roadside meetings and political rallies for two months as part of measures to arrest a possible surge of the virus cases after weeks of low infections.
Kenya has lately recorded a sustained decline in COVID-19 infections with just 124 cases reported on Sunday from a sample size of 2,855. This raised the cumulative cases in the country to 98,802.
With the full-scale reopening of all learning institutions, the government said there will be no extracurricular activities involving more than one school.
The temporary ban that will last 90 days was announced Sunday by President Kenyatta who issued an Executive Order suspending sports, music, drama, prize-giving events among others.
“All extra-curricula activities and all exchange visits between schools shall remain prohibited for the same period,” he said and directed school principals to maintain a register of all sick students and teachers and immediately inform the County Health Department of all instances of moderate to severe illness.