The mess that has defined public schools over the last six months welcomed back teachers yesterday as support staff who usually keep the institutions tidy and habitable stayed away, having gone without pay for as long.
Teaching staff were greeted by overgrown bushes, facilities in disrepair, dirty and dusty classrooms and gullies running through playing fields owing to failure by the government to release funds for maintenance during the prolonged closure.
As of Tuesday, in most schools, only a few support staff, mostly guards, were still working but there was a near 100 per cent turnout by tutors.
During their first day back at work, some went straight to preparing their teaching materials in readiness to receive learners, as directed by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), while others chose to spend the day in meetings, planning how to implement the health guidelines issued by the Education ministry and also how to deliver the curriculum once learners resume.
Many also appeared to favour a phased reopening, with senior classes reporting first.
All the 26 TSC teachers at Kilimani Primary in Nairobi reported but those employed by the board of management did not. Headteacher Lucy Apondi said lack of finances is a huge challenge to the school with 1,316 pupils accommodated in 28 classrooms.
At Olympic Primary in Kibra, pupils were walking in and out to fetch water for household use but some were studying on their own in the classrooms.
At Temple Road Primary School in Nyeri, all the 18 teachers reported to the school. They went around the school assessing and identifying all the tasks that needed to be carried out before pupils came back to school.
They arranged desks in the classes observing the 1.5-metre rule as recommended.
At Stella Maris Othaya Girls, all the teachers reported back and held a meeting on reopening. The chief principal, Jane Wacheke, the meeting sought to plan on the logistics.
At Moi Mbiruri Boys Secondary School, the teachers said they are determined to ensure students learn in a clean environment when studies resume.
And at Holy Rosary Primary School in Kangema, headteacher Ruth Murigi said tutors were being sensitised on Covid-19 protocols.
At the Hill School Eldoret Primary in Uasin Gishu County, all the 42 teachers (37 employed by TSC) reported by 9am before holding staff meeting.
Teachers at Mwaani Girls High School in Makueni County deliberated on how the school would adhere to the Covid-19 protocols.
In Turkana County, teachers reported to schools but inadequate facilities might hinder plans to conform to social distancing protocols.
Kaakong Primary School headteacher, Simon Edaan, said the school has a population of 400 pupils with only six permanent classrooms and 100 desks.
“No new classroom has been constructed. We will be forced to erect temporary shades to accommodate some children if we are to conform with the new directives,” Mr Edaan said.
The boys’ latrines were destroyed by heavy rains and the only water pump vandalised.
Chokchok Primary School headteacher, William Kinyonga, said with a population of 360 pupils, the five permanent classrooms are inadequate.
Only Standard 7 and 8 use the 10 desks, 18 lockers and 18 chairs as the others sit on the floor.