Matters Disability

Back To School, Masks For Every Student…What Happens To Deaf Students?

Kenya reported its first covid-19 case on 15th march. This brought tension in the country closing almost everything up. The president appointed Mutahi Kagwe the Cabinet secretary for health to spear head the fight against the unseen deadly virus and prevent its wide spread.

The ministry of health gave out guidelines to help in cubing the spread of the virus. The guidelines that are: wearing of facemasks, keeping social distancing, regular washing of hands or use of government approved sanitizers and finally, staying at home.

Despite the measures put in place, the covid-19 numbers started rising day by day. This triggered the government through the ministry of health to impose more restrictions on citizens. The introduction of night curfew countrywide, closure of bars and eateries and the closure of counties.

Schools were also close down because of the restrictions seeing students stay at home. With physical learning being interrupted, students opted for online classes which serves well, but not all.

Covid-19 cases recently hit 2million worldwide posing more threat. Kenya has eased the restrictions that were set by the ministry of health because of the curve flattening. Many businesses have resumed though not fully.

On seeing the curve flattening and the percentage rate hitting below 5, theministry of health and the ministry of education appointed a special committee to work on possible re-opening of schools.

Last week when the president was giving his 12th speech on covid -19 updates, the special committee gave out its recommendations on schools and re-opening. On Monday 5th,proof. Magoha the cabinet secretary for Education announced the re-opening of schools systematically. Grade 4 class 8 and form 4 are expected to report to school on Monday 12th October.

Upon the re-opening, the ministry has directed the guidelines given by ministry of health to still play. Wearing of masks, social distancing, washing of hands and other guidelines to be enforced in schools.

Students with disabilities are also expected to go back to school, with the ministry of health guidelines, the students face a lot of challenges. For instance, the ministry has directed all students and teachers to ware facemasks when in school and class.

The deaf students face a big communication set back when it comes to wearing of masks. The Deaf students that are supposed to report back to school on Monday, are required to have facemasks as proposed the by ministry of health.

The deaf use combination of SIGN LANGUAGE, BODY MOVEMENT AND FACIAL EXPRRESSIONS to communicate. With the wearing of facemasks in class by teachers and students, this means deaf students won’t be able to read the facial expression of their teachers making it hard for them to communicate or even understand the lessons taught.

Since there are no transparent facemasks and which could help in facial expressions, the government should re-consider making some to the deaf students to help all students’ attend schools regardless of the student situation.  

By SILAS ABBAS

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