Universities and colleges are planning for the resumption of face-to-face learning after the government lifted restrictions in place to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most university senates have held meetings and agreed to cautiously bring back students to the campuses even as they continue with blended learning.
Geoffrey Muluvi, the chair of the Vice-Chancellors Committee, in a text message to VCs, advised the managers to resume face-to-face learning beginning next week, but with a caveat that they should comply with the Covid-19 protocols already in place.
Although there has been confusion on when learning is expected to resume, a few institutions have already communicated with students on the reporting dates.
Faith Akeyo, a student at Egerton University said they had been instructed to report to the institution by yesterday.
In a memo dated May 5, acting Academic Affairs Registrar Mwanarusi Saidi informed the students that they will be expected to complete all pending practicals and sit their second continuous assessment tests from May 10 to May 21.
The end of semester examinations have been scheduled to start on May 24 and end on June 7.
Kenyatta University also sent out a memo for the resumption of face-to-face learning for completion of the first semester in the 2020/2021 academic year.
Technical institutions have also been advised to resume in-person learning from Monday.
In a memo to all principals, heads of institutions and managers of the middle-level colleges, Vocational and Technical Training Principal Secretary Margaret Mwakima said that Covid-19 measures must be observed.
“Comply with social distancing requirements and reduce the risk of Covid-19 infections. Give prominence to practical training in this face to face instructions,” said Dr Mwakima.
She advised college administrators to continue with online training for programmes that are not hands-on.
The PS also released a timetable for the colleges, which runs from May 10 to May 21, to complete the academic year.
Term Three will run from May 24 to July 30 while the Kenya National Examinations Council examinations shall be administered between August 2 and August 27.
Vice-chancellors said they had been holding meetings to ensure smooth reopening of the institutions.
Stephen Kiama, the University of Nairobi vice-chancellor said the Senate had approved full reopening based on the courses offered.
“We agreed that deans and principals of colleges will take charge of the reopening plans in line with the Covid-19 protocols,” said Prof Kiama.
He said each school will decide whether students shall be called for in-person examinations, or whether they will be done online.
“We never shut. We have been having lessons and so each dean and principal will decide how they will take care of their students,” he said, adding that decisions will be made on courses that have practical examinations.
Stephen Agong, the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga of Science and Technology VC said students will be allowed on campus but in full compliance with health measures.
“We shall allow cautious reopening for in-person but also continue with blended learning. However, our officers are under firm instructions to ensure all Covid-19 health protocols are adhered to,” said Prof Agong.
Dickson Nyariki, the Murang’a University VC said the Senate had agreed that all students should resume classes.
“The Senate met for the second time and decided we open from May 10,” said Prof Nyariki.
Vincent Gaitho, the secretary-general of the National Association of Private Universities in Kenya said the institutions are ready to start in-person lessons.
“We shall recall all students from Monday. However, not all students will report because some will not be in session. The majority will resume normal teaching and learning,” said Gaitho.
He said the students who will be in session will be encouraged to utilise their institutions’ facilities even in situations where virtual lessons will be adopted. “We have libraries, computer laboratories, internet resources and the playing fields all with hotspots that can facilitate online lessons for students.”
The Health Ministry has outlined measures the institutions should take to ensure learners’ safety. These include making available clean running water and soap for hand-washing, and sanitisers for all students.
Universities and colleges have also been directed to make available affordable masks for all students and staff, and their use will be mandatory
For social distancing requirements, the institutions have been directed to erect signs that urge compliance among students and staff.
Thermal guns will also be required to monitor the temperature of staff, lecturers and visitors seeking access into the institutions.