Salvaging the school year has been a dicey topic with the government seemingly torn between caving in to pressure to re-open or staying firm on foregoing learning in 2020.
Education CS Prof George Magoha has juggled between opening schools next year, opening Universities this year, studying under tress through Community Based Learning and throwing up his hands to let President Uhuru Kenyatta decide what to do.
All over the world, reopening schools has been a controversial policy split between genuine fear of disease spread and complex costly policies to implement social distancing, access to amenities in schools.
Maseno University may just have found an efficient alternative to instituting safety measures that could be more effective in managing students during this pandemic.
In an initiative dubbed COVIDConnect, the university has partnered with Kisumu County Department of Health and PharmAccess to roll out a mobile application called Luscii App which is easily downloadable on smartphones and is easily adoptable by the digital savvy youth in school.
Already hundreds of Kisumu County residents are already utilizing the application, resumption of studies might just be the biggest beneficiaries of the technology.
The application, which is provided at no cost to users is not a replacement of regular healthcare services but an additional service to expand the County’s Covid-19 response capacity.
Luscii application allows users to simply key in their temperature to measure fever, indicate whether they have a cough or sore throat, and their breathing rate on a daily basis.
It’s on the basis of this data that doctors and medical practitioners will act to identify which cases should be followed up for targeted testing and containment rather than conducting blanket testing on every student.
According to Moses Otieno, a Program Officer at PharmAccess, the Luscii app can help keep up to date data which can be monitored closely and not focused on contact rather on actual evolving cases for faster containment within the institutions.
“In fact students can be asked to start monitoring their temperature while still at home which will help reduce the risk of carrying the virus to the institution,” said Otieno.
Prof. Ogendo, Dean, School of Medicine at Maseno University says, the public’s need for trusted information on coronavirus has become urgent since the outbreak of the pandemic. COVIDConnect seeks to provide the general public with trusted and credible advice on the disease so as to alleviate fear and anxiety.
The Vice-Chancellor of Maseno University, Prof. Julius Nyabundi, says, Maseno University is pleased to be part of COVIDConnect which ensures that prompt and accurate information gets to the public to enhance home-based intervention in order to decongest hospitals.
While this cannot be the only intervention, used with ministry of health guidelines including ensuring they have adequate hand-washing points for maximum hygiene preferably foot operated, automatic sanitizer dispensers, gun thermometers, as well as equipped isolation facilities, protective gear and face masks readily available within the institutions.
Universities have to also ensure the availability of clean running water and soap for hand-washing, sanitizers and frequent sanitizing of frequently touched surfaces such as doors, knobs, light switches and stair railings.