Closure or Reopening Schools in Kenya? Dilemma amidst Covid 19 Pandemic

By Anthony M. Wanjohi and Nickson K. Samoo: The ongoing global covid-19 pandemic has brought with it the biggest economic slowdown in the recent history. Not only have businesses closed down but schools in many countries were forced to close. The first cases of the Covid -19 were reported in Wuhan, China with patients exhibiting pneumonia-like symptoms. Initial reports emerging at the time, even from the World Health Organization (WHO), categorically indicated that the disease was not transmissible and therefore the world did not pay much attention and world economies carried on unperturbed. However, this information turned out to be misleading as the disease spread from country to country, leading to lock down. Businesses and schools were closed as major economies of the world came down crumbling. This article provides an overview of an underlying question of dilemma, whether to uphold school closure or to re-open schools amidst the rising cases of Covid 19 pandemic.

Closure or Reopening Schools with Rising Cases of Covid-19 in Kenya

Covid-19 has had ravaging effects on the education sector globally. The pandemic led to schools closure. But one major question remains: should we uphold school closure or re-open schools amidst the rising cases of Covid 19 pandemic. Research by Zimmermann & Curtis (2020) shed light in this regard. Zimmermann et al observe that children are in most times asymptomatic. Thus, the effect of the virus on children is minimal if there are no underlying pre-existing conditions.

Looking at the question of school closure and reopening from a global perspective, countries like Sweden and Norway in Europe managed the pandemic without imposing a lockdown on its citizens. Pre-schools and grade schools have been in session not to mention businesses (Erdbrink & Anderson, 2020).

In Australia, the Health Committee advised that schools should remain open terming them as essential services. In the same vein, the Victorian chief Health officer, Brett Sutton endorsed the decision stating that closure of schools was not an effective health intervention in curbing community spread of Covid-19 (Karp & Davey, 2020).

In the Netherlands, schools were re-opened much earlier. According to authorities, the public health risk of reopening schools was manageable. Secondary schools were in line to reopen once they confirmed that social distancing could be managed (Schaart, 2020).

There are varied reasons for and against reopening of schools. One of the key reasons justifying the reopening of schools is the fact there is generally a low transmissibility of the corona virus among children as shown by some studies (Principi, Bosis, & Esposito, 2010).

In Kenya, there are rising cases of covid-19 reported daily by the Ministry of health. This is despite the lock down measures put up by the government of Kenya. It seems that the measures have been inadequate as cases are being reported outside Nairobi despite there being cessation of movement out of Nairobi. Schools remained closed indefinitely since March, 2020. Following global trends, there seems to be no much variation in Covid-19 cases between countries that have locked down and those that did not lock down. Thus, it is a matter of when schools should re-open as the pandemic is likely to persist.


Despite the rising cases of Coronavirus in Kenya, there is a low transmissibility rate among children. As such, Kenya could borrow from other case countries that did not impose school lockdown despite the rising cases of Coronavirus. With Coronavirus pandemic, there seems to be no clear, visible end in sight; it is about adopting new behaviour. “If we behave normally, this disease will treat us abnormally”, as Kagwe (2020) observes. Thus, schools should be re-opened and “abnormal behaviour” be encouraged through provision and implementation of sound safety guidelines.


Erdbrink  T. & Anderson, C. (2020) : ‘Life Has to Go On’: How Sweden Has Faced the Virus Without a Lockdown. Retrieved from /europe/sweden-coronavirus-herd-immunity.html

Esposito, S., Bosis, S., Niesters, H. G., Tremolati, E., Begliatti, E., Rognoni, A., … & Osterhaus, A. D. (2006). Impact of human coronavirus infections in otherwise healthy children who attended an emergency department. Journal of medical virology, 78(12), 1609-1615.

Karp, P. & Davey, M. (2020).Why Australia is not shutting schools to help control the spread of coronavirus .Retrieved from:

Principi, N., Bosis, S., & Esposito, S. (2010). Effects of coronavirus infections in children. Emerging infectious diseases, 16(2), 183.

Schaart, E. (2020).Dutch to reopen schools but bars, restaurants to remain closed.Retreived from:

Zimmermann, P., & Curtis, N. (2020). Coronavirus infections in children including COVID-19: an overview of the epidemiology, clinical features, diagnosis, treatment and prevention options in children. The Pediatric infectious disease journal, 39(5), 355.