Teachers and school staff in East Africa are working hard to prepare their classrooms for the imminent return of their students. Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda are planning a phased re-opening of schools. Schools in these three countries were closed following the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in the countries, in mid-March. Children have been out of school for half a year already.
In Uganda, the first students will return to school on the 15th of October. Uganda will be following a phased school re-opening. Candidates will be the first to resume education, so that they can prepare for their January exams. Non-candidate classes will follow though the date of their return has not been announced yet.
Ethiopia will reopen schools from the 19th of October onward. For Ethiopia it will be the beginning of a new school year, which normally starts in September. The school reopening will be geographically phased. Schools in rural areas with relatively low COVID-19 infection rates will be the first. Urban areas will be the next to re-open, with schools in the capital of Addis Ababa being the final ones to resume education in the first week of November.
All schools are subject to observing strict COVID-19 prevention measures. Governments have issued directives for re-opening, and protocols for hygiene and social distancing while in school.
In Kenya, focus at first was on making the learning environment COVID-19 safe before details of re-opening were announced. Inspections have been conducted by the Ministries of Education and Health combined. Once the authorities confirmed that schools are capable of abiding by the guidelines, the date for re-opening was announced. Kenya will follow a similar phased back to school as Uganda. On the 12th of October, Standard 8 and Form 4 students will be the first back in the Kenyan classrooms.
Tanzania has followed a phased re-opening of schools already. Tertiary education (universities and vocational schools) resumed first, followed by primary and secondary. The country was fully back to school in July, after a three month lockdown.