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Fadeyi Oluwaseun
Ladoke Akintola University Ogbomosho
B.tech Marketing Management
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If there's anything the school reopening pandemonium has proved, it's that teachers are under siege. And that it will be miraculous if they survive this episode of insanity with their sanity and health intact.

Even President Uhuru Kenyatta's recent lamentations about the colossal risks we would expose our children to if we kept asking 'When?' instead of 'How?' on school reopening failed to acknowledge that the health and wellbeing of teachers and learners are inextricably linked.

The President should be reminded that we have been screaming 'How?' ever since the quarrelsome Education CS Prof George Magoha hinted that schools would be reopened. We also screamed 'How?' when the logistically unhinged Community Based Learning was announced.

We are still screaming 'How?' almost a week after teachers were ordered back to school to prepare the way for learners.

The indisputable reality is that we can't protect learners without protecting teachers. So why is the Ministry of Education behaving as if the protection of teachers is not a priority?

The decision to reopen schools is not a light one, and one can appreciate that the confusion displayed by the ministry could be due to the high stakes and many stakeholders involved -- from teachers, learners, subordinate staff, administrators, their families and all who will come in contact with them.

But at the centre of all this is the teacher, who's expected to pull nothing short of a miracle to ensure learners are healthy, alive and up to date with the syllabus.

Preparations for reopening

If the safety and wellbeing of teachers was a priority for the ministry, then they would not have broken their promise to release funds to schools.

The Daily Nation reported on September 1 that this delay complicates the schools' preparations for reopening. This means that the learners may soon be coming back to dilapidated, poorly ventilated classrooms.

If schools can't pay their essential bills, how can they be expected to protect teachers and learners from Covid-19 infections?

The stringent guidelines proposed by the ministry, like class teachers being required to meet learners below nine years at the gate in the morning and walk them back to the exit at the end of the day, means they will be more exposed to Covid-19 than the average school employee.

This should have been the cue for the ministry. But no, they now have them busy supervising cleanliness in schools. Or doing the scrubbing and disinfecting themselves. What a horrible choice teachers have to make--between a livelihood and a life because that's what it boils down to.

Fundamental questions about how schools will stay clean and disinfected, how learners will be kept physically distanced and how teachers will be kept safe have not been answered.

Until the ministry gives a satisfactory answer, we will assume that teachers' lives don't matter to them.

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