2020 – A Strange Year for Open Hearts and Minds School
While 2020 has been a challenging year for all of us, it has been the strangest in our 10 year journey at Open Hearts and Minds School!
The year started off as normal with a new intake of students in our entrance class and our Grade 8 students leaving with several of them starting secondary school. We had also taken on another 25 students from the community as fee-paying students at the request of the District School Officer. This is not something we had planned but several schools in the area had had to close due to safety concerns, and we wanted to do our bit so the children didn’t lose out on their education. The first term was well under way… and then came COVID-19!
In line with the Kenyan government guidance we had to close the doors of OHAM School from 14th March. The children, teachers and staff all stayed at home as recommended from March until October. As the nature of the pandemic became clearer, the government issued new guidelines for arrangements in Kenyan schools when they were to re-open. There were new requirements for hand-washing facilities, taking the students temperatures each day and social distancing in the classrooms. Edward, Sarah and Phil worked through these to ensure that OHAM School would be safe for the children and staff on return. New hand-washing stations, an isolation room, and a digital thermometer were purchased. The big item though was the new individual desks for the younger students! Gone are the days when 2 or 3 students cram together on a single desk – we bought 25 new desks to allow for social distancing in our classrooms!
In October the government advised that two classes (Grades 4 and 8) should return to school for lessons. About half of the teachers and the cooks returned to teach and look after these children. It was great to have at least a few of the students back again!
In January 2021, all classes have returned to school with the new measures in place to protect against the pandemic. With no access to the on-line tools available in many countries, our children, along with most of the Kenyan children, have lost 6 months of education; they are basically having to repeat the school year. Everyone is looking forward to getting back to school.
At Open Hearts and Minds School we are looking forward to getting back to our mission of teaching and nurturing disadvantaged children to give them a brighter future. With the continued support of our sponsors and donors, the hard work and enthusiasm of the staff and children we will bounce back in 2021!
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