The Kenya Union of Post Primary education (KUPPET) is now demanding a review on the use of learning institutions as quarantine centers.
In a statement Tuesday KUPPET called on the government to diffuse doubts and fear surroundings its move to designate schools as quarantine centers by having a dialogue with stakeholders to win over the trust of communities.
According to KUPPET, communities that live next to schools being used as quarantine centers have been living in fear and apprehensive that the use of institutions close to them will bring COVID-19 to their areas.
“The government’s recent announcement that secondary schools around the country would be used as isolation centres has created widespread alarm. Many local communities are apprehensive that the use of institutions close to them will bring COVID-19 to their areas. Indeed, in some areas, local leaders have expressed opposition to the use of their schools to host people suspected of having COVID-19.”
They said the believe that the measures taken again COVID-19 will see significant reduction in the number of new cases in Kenya and that, in the final analysis, the use of schools as isolation centres will not become necessary.
Among the assurance the government needs to give stakeholders according to KUPPET is for the Ministry of Health to provide for the upkeep of the isolated persons.
“However, to allay widespread fears and win over the trust of communities, the government must engage all stakeholders – including school Boards of Management, local leaders and teachers’ unions – in an honest, transparent and accountable dialogue about it intends to use the schools.”
KUPPET also wants that the schools will be used only to house only persons isolated from health institutions within the county and that Sub-County Directors of Education, Sub-County Directors of the Teachers Service Commission and Health officials will brief school Boards of Management, Principals and local union officials on the procedures to be used in isolation persons.
KUPPET adds that the dialogue must also include assurances that the principals, support staff and other persons who will come into contact with the isolated persons will be provided with sufficient protective gear, such as N95 masks, disinfectants, gumboots and gloves which they need to protect themselves from COVID-19.
In addition that the Ministry of Health will provide for the upkeep of the isolated persons in terms of bedding, food and other essentials and where school resources are used for that purpose, the government will reimburse the institutions.
They also want the Ministry of Health to avail officers to check on the health of the isolated persons on a daily basis and take infected persons to medical facilities as soon as their infection is proven.
And that principals and other workers to handle the isolated persons will be taken through induction and be psychologically prepared for the intense work involved in handling COVID-19 patients and isolated persons. Such psychological support should also be provided at the end of the quarantine process.
KUPPET also wants immediately the isolated persons finish their quarantine period, the Ministry of Health to comprehensively fumigate the institutions and sterilise all facilities the isolated persons shall have used during their stay in the institutions.
The union at the same time reaffirmed its the commitment of the teaching fraternity including head-teachers and principals, the entire force and the unions – to help the government achieve its goal of minimising the damage of COVID-19 to national health and economy of the country.