Kenyan schools re-opened for face-to-face learning on Monday, with grades four, standard eight and form fours returning to class for the first time in six months.

Kenya announced the closure of all learning institutions in March to contain the spread of COVID-19. Majority of parents welcomed the re-opening, even as they lamented tough economic times.

Also welcoming Kenya’s decision is to re-open schools is the UN agency for Children, UNICEF, which says  more than 17 million Kenyan students have missed six months, leading to other social problems including teenage pregnancies and early marriages.

On arrival, it was clear for learners that school as they knew it will never be the same again.

“I think the most difficult thing is maintaining the social distance and having the mask all through,” said one learner.

“I am very impressed the guidelines and the protocols that have been followed to the letter,” some parents say.

The country’s education ministry had declared the academic year dead and announced that schools would only re-open in January. Last week’s announcement was an ambush of sorts for parents, especially those who may have lost their sources of income.

“I know it’s very tough for all the parents because first people have lost jobs so getting money is quite a problem,” says a parent.

According to the new guidelines those in transitional classes that is Grade 4, Standard eight and form four will be the first to report to school ahead of their national examinations which have now been pushed from November this year to March next year.

“Now that we have wasted a lot of time I will be able to recover it.”

“Student there is anxiety but I think the regulations put in place will work for the best,” some students say.

In the region, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda are yet to reopen as countries continue to grapple with how to re-open schools safely.

COVID-19 Lockdown | Kenya schools reopen: Sarah Kimani reports: