|2021 is off to an ambitious and energized start on WISER’s campus. Our existing reopening plan for just Form Four (12th Grade) students has expanded to include our entire student body, following Kenyan government directives. Once again, WISER would have preferred to reopen our campus once we could be sure that there was absolutely no risk to our students and staff. But we are going above and beyond government guidelines to ensure that our students, staff, and their communities are as safe, well, and supported as possible.|
What does that look like?
1) Continuing our successful “learning pod” structure.
Each grade level is split into two to three “learning pods,” meaning that students eat, sleep, learn, and spend leisure time with the same small group of students. This design allows students as normal a school experience as possible–providing continued interaction with peers–and also provides a structure for contact tracing among students and staff should needs arise.
2) Universal masking and hand washing and sanitizing stations.
Masking and hand hygiene are effective ways of preventing the spread of COVID-19, and WISER has built them into our days. Everyone on WISER’s campus is required to wear a mask at all times, other than sleeping and eating, and all students and staff are provided with enough masks for a daily rotation. Additionally, there are hand washing and sanitizing stations at the entrance to every classroom and indoor space.
3) Physically-distanced dining, learning, and sleeping accommodations.
Another effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19 is physical distancing, and our state-of-the-art campus has been redesigned to allow students and staff at least six feet of distance from one another at all times. Our multipurpose/dining hall has transitioned to a dormitory with spaced-out bunks, and many meals, assemblies, and meetings are taking place outside whenever possible. Our classrooms are already designed for maximum airflow to prevent other airborne diseases such as tuberculosis–and we’ve taken physical distancing one step further to keep our students and staff safe. And our dedicated teachers have transformed their own staff room into classroom space to support these efforts.
4) COVID-19 safety trainings and response teams.
All students, faculty, and support staff received a comprehensive COVID-19 training before beginning to learn and live on campus again. WISER has also begun implementing COVID-19 response teams, one comprising 19 students and one comprising 7 teaching and support staff members, which are tasked with monitoring physical distancing, hand washing, masking, and other safety precautions among their peers. This peer-to-peer accountability structure ensures that each of WISER’s COVID-19 protocols are being followed.
5) Temperature monitoring and quarantine/hospitalization plans.
In close partnership with the local medical clinic, WISER has implemented a symptom monitoring system that includes daily temperature screenings for students and staff and screenings at the gate for the few visitors to campus. WISER also has created spaces for quarantining on campus should needs arise, as well as comprehensive plans for supporting students and staff with safe travel to the clinic or hospital for COVID-19 treatment.
6) Robust psychosocial and educational support.
In addition to all of these safety measures, what sets WISER apart is still true. WISER continues to provide students with an exceptional and cost-free education–an education that continued throughout campus closures through remote learning. And WISER students are able to be resilient in the face of so many changes because of existing psychosocial support systems. This includes our unique Houses of Wisdom structure, through which older students who have been on campus for several months are helping younger students adjust to the changes that COVID-19 has brought.
WISER has gone above and beyond to keep our students, staff, and the surrounding community safe in the face of completely unprecedented obstacles. So far, no WISER student or staff member has had to isolate or receive care for COVID-19. And the WISER family is back to doing what it is best at: learning, growing, and thriving, on campus, with each other.