University of Nairobi premises
The University of Nairobi premises.

UON Planning to Reopen in November

The University of Nairobi is planning a phase reopening in mid-November 2020. The university has over 84,000 students and 6,000 members of staff spread across its 35 campuses around the country. The phased approach will allow the university to assess staff and students’ safety before moving into a full reopening in January 2021.

The selection of the date relies on the assumption that the government will not relax on the stringent measures in place to combat COVID-19.

All final year students in laboratory and clinical disciplines will return early to complete their studies. The final year students who will have received adequate and effective online learning will be allowed to do their exams online and proceed to graduation.

The vice-chancellor, prof. Stephen Kiama appointed a team to come up with recommendations to help stem the spread of coronavirus within the campuses. A report prepared by the team was presented to the Senate on Thursday.

The report, titled “Recommendations on Covid-19 Prevention on Scheduling Return of Students to Campus”  outlines key recommendations for mitigation against the spread of the pandemic.

Surgical masks will be mandatory to all students and members of staff, while workers on the frontline will be required to wear N95 masks. Members of the staff over 60 years old and those with underlying health conditions will work from home or wear N95 masks if on campus.

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Lectures will be conducted in small groups and if necessary lessons repeated a number of times to accommodate all students.

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To avoid physical contact, all exams will be done online and transport within the campus minimized. The university will involve the government to help students travel safely to campus from their locations.

The report further notes that all seats will be marked to adhere to social distance measures set by the ministry of health.

In addition to screening everyone entering the campus, the university will also install automatic sanitizers and handwashing systems at all entry points to buildings and public places with high student traffic.

Students’ sick bays will be expanded in all the university of Nairobi campuses while isolation and quarantine centers will be set up. Halls and other learning venues will be reorganized and fumigated on a regular basis.

There are plans underway to obtain necessary licenses and kits to allow testing of COVID-19 within the UON teaching and service laboratories.

If an infection is found in a particular venue, the report recommends the place to be closed and tracking and isolation carried out immediately.

The whole campus will be locked down if a given number of places including worship centers, lecture theatres, and places of residence, report a number of positive cases for coronavirus.

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On June 17, the University Education, and Research principal secretary, Simon Nabukwesi had directed all universities to stop admissions of new quarantine patients. Some universities and colleges have been used as quarantine centers for COVID-19 contacts awaiting testing.