New Guidelines For Resumption of Games in Schools and Colleges
Running of sports and games in public schools and colleges is expected to be more costly as the Ministry of Education gradually reintroduces resumption of co-curricular activities.
As per the new rules prepared by the Ministry of Education, there will be an increased planning of the sports events at all levels of learning arising from the number of officials overseeing the exercise at any given time when activities fully resume.
All sporting activities in schools were halted following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The government through the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Basic and Early Learning Dr. Julius Jwan in his Circular dated June 16,2021 on implementation of Free Day Secondary Schools for the year 2021-2022; which gave new reduced fees guidelines, the government pays Sh. 1,500 activity fees to each student in secondary schools both day and boarding.
However, parents who have their children in boarding schools pay a varying amount to top up on the activity fees depending on the school category; with parents who have children in boarding schools category A which comprise of all National and Extra County Schools located in Nairobi,Mombasa,Nakuru, Kisumu, Nyeri, Thika and Eldoret only paying additional Sh 798 activity fees.
Those who are in boarding schools Category B which includes all schools that are boarding schools and extra county schools that are located in other areas other than the town of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kisumu, Nyeri, Thika and Eldoret having nothing to pay on the activity fees.
With the new health protocol in place, which clearly shows the increased number of officials than it was before; and government through the Ministry of Education has not issued any guidelines on whether it will increase activity fee allocation to every learner, it is feared that the extra cost might be shifted to parents.
As revealed in Ministry’s document titled Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines or Protocols for Resumption of Games and Sports in Learning Institutions in the Context of COVID-19, which were prepared in February 2021 by the Ministry’s State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education, the health guidelines reveal that medical personnel which must be part of the team for the championships are among the newly introduced officials in the sporting and games activities.
Alongside that, there is the formation of COVID-19 rapid response committee which will be tasked in enforcing the COVID-19 health guidelines. This will be a new committee in the sporting in learning institutions.
The protocols also require that the number of spectators be restricted and regulated, an increase in the number of equipment and facilities required in a given sporting or game activity and also more hosting institutions will be required because of social distancing.
Some rules in some of the games will be required to be modified to ensure minimal contact, and identification and booking of accommodation for match officials will also be part of the new normal in the sporting activities in the COVID-19 era.
According to the health and safety guidelines (protocols) by the Ministry, more days will be required for various sporting activities since some of
the activities will have to take longer because of COVID-19; which means that there will be a revert to term 1, 2A and 2B to reduce on the
numbers, while transportation of students to abide by the Ministry’s with that of transport guidelines.
Most recently, the Ministry through a Circular dated November 15, 2021 addressed to all Regional, County and Sub-County Directors of Education re-introduced co-curricular activities in schools; starting with interschool sporting activities.
On October 18,2021, the Ministry of Health recommended that inter-school sporting activities may gradually resume with strict adherence to the current guidelines prepared by MOE.
The activities (interschool sporting activities) which are supposed to be carried out in strict adherence to the guidelines prepared by the Ministry are part of the efforts made by the Ministry on gradual and safe resumption of co-curricular activities in schools.
“The Ministry of Education advises the Principals to engage learners in internal co-curricular activities and guided inter-school contest over the weekend and after classes. Meanwhile the Ministry is working on modalities for full resumption of activities in due course,” read the Circular signed by Principal Secretary in the State Department of Early Learning and Basic Education Dr. Julius Jwan.
However, the initial focus will only be on non-contact or low contact activities as guided in the protocols implying that athletics (heptathlon, decathion), badminton, table tennis, gymnastics, darts and cycling which are non-contact sports have been given the green light to commence in the Circular at interschool level.
Others include contact sports which are low risk including Soccer, Hockey, Netball,Basketball,Handball and Volleyball; and jogging, team building, trekking and tug of war too have been allowed to resume though at interschool level.
According to the guidelines, contact sports which are high risk will remain closed and this affect activities like Boxing,Karate,judo,Rugby,Chess and Scrabble;which will also include water sportslike swimming and lifesaving.
Guidelines For Secondary Schools
According to the Ministry’s protocols guidelines on preparations for resumption of sports in Secondary Schools under Pre-Competition stage,a number of guidelines have been set which include maintaining an adequate ratio of coach to participant for adequate supervision, participants to hydrate often by provision of adequate safe drinking water.
Keeping training sessions short, ensuring participants put on clean face masks when not in action, avoiding contacts that are unnecessary like handshakes, high fives, hugs, pecks fist-up among others; and after testing, the participants are supposed to be kept away from contact until the end of the competition.
Others include ensuring of adequate accommodation villages that are compliant with COVID-19 protocols, and maintaining proper records of participants for contact tracing for the required period of competition.
On venue preparation, the Ministry’s Protocols requires that there should be clear display of posters on COVID-19 protocols which should be at strategic points on portable stands, all over the field, venue and rooms.
Proper signage to control flow of movement should be ensured, designated hand wash points with soap at strategic places at the venue should be available, screening all for temperature and record keeping, with all non-participants being required to have their face masks on at all times.
Other Protocols include sourcing, accounting for and sanitizing all the equipment beforehand; fumigating the field or rooms and the village before use, and availing adequate peddle operated waste bins at strategic points in the venue.
Regarding handling competitors and spectators or fans, the Protocols requires that there should be screen ag for temperature in call room or checking area, ensuring that they comply with health and safety protocols by limiting their number through the use of indelible ink or identification stamps.
Regular reminder via public address system on the health and safety protocols throughout the duration of the championship, with a structured communication to technical persons and officials on guidelines and information governing the competitions in place.
The Protocols also requires that the competitors and spectators or fans be provided with facilities that ensure compliance with the protocols for instance time keepers stand should cater for social distance.