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School children will stay home for as long as the Covid-19 pandemic persists,  Education CS George Magoha (pictured) has told a parliamentary committee.

This now puts the reopening of thousands of schools across the country in limbo since it will now depend on how the Covid-19 disease, which has claimed 26 lives in the country, is managed.

“If the pandemic persists then we shall bite the bullet, even if it means having our children stay home for a year. We are not the only country in this predicament,” he said.

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Appearing before the National Assembly’s Education Committee and Research on Thursday, the CS told the MPs it was difficult to specify the exact dates on when schools will resume since “no one knows when this pandemic will end”.

The Ministry had rolled out virtual learning services to offer lessons to learners who have remained at home since the schools were shut down prematurely in March.

The Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development also rolled out lessons for Radio, TV and other platforms for all the 15 million learners in primary and secondary schools, but the MPs raised concerns that some learners will not be able to access them, especially those in remote areas and have also been affected by floods.

Prof Magoha assured that his Ministry will ensure learners cover what they have lost during the period they will be out of school while admitting that not every student is able to access the virtual learning.

“When schools open, the syllabus will start from where it stopped, therefore those who did not have the benefit of e-learning will catch up. The process will be all-inclusive,” he said.

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His PS Belio Kipsang, who was also appearing before the committee urged school children to stay safe during the pandemic as the Ministry forges the way forward.

“Learning was suspended across the board. They should operate at homes and observe Covid-19 guidelines including social distancing,” he said.

The CS had earlier on extended school closure by another month from May 4 to June 4. This would have resulted in a loss of seven weeks of learning.

To recover this, the CS said they will shorten the second term, reduce the August school holidays by two weeks and adjust school days to have longer hours so as to recover the time lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

But if the pandemic persists, the Ministry will come up with possible scenarios in the coming weeks after engaging “critical stakeholders” which will lay down guidelines on how learning will resume and when the national exams will be conducted.

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