COVID -19 Policy

Diakonia Institute Policy and Guidelines on Prevention and Control of COVID19

July 2020

Importance of policy

This policy document is meant to enable the administration, staff members and other stakeholders of Diakonia Institute to prevent and control the transmission of COVID-19 amongst learners, staff members and visitors.  It also intends to facilitate quick response mechanisms if a case of COVID-19 infection is detected in the Institute or where there is an outbreak within the neighbouring community. The paper identifies the mode of operation for continuation of academic activities when there is an epidemic of COVID-19 and seeks to address misconceptions and stigma linked to COVID-19.   

The Role of Diakonia Institute in Responding to COVID-19

Diakonia Institute must ensure the safety of learners, staffs, parents/guardians and visitors as it is located in the community where people share public spaces and transact with persons from diverse backgrounds. It will work with local public and private stakeholders in the health, security, business and civil society to slow down the spread of COVID-19 and to deliver accurate information about COVID-19 to learners, staff members, parents/guardians and visitors. The Institute will make arrangements for mental health intervention at individual and group level in case any member of the Diakonia Institute Community is affected or infected by COVID-19.

Steps to follow in reopening the Institute

The Diakonia Institute Administration will undertake the following safety measures before reopening of the institute for studies:

  1. Repair, clean up and fumigate classrooms, furniture and washrooms in Diakonia Institute and ensure that there is clean running water.
  2. Provide soap hand sanitizers and temperature check machine and ensure that they are used by learners, staff members and visitors.
  3. Ensure that learners, visitors and staff members wear their face masks whenever they are in the premises of Diakonia Institute.
  4. Ensure that learners, staff members and visitors maintain social distance whenever they are at Diakonia Institute.
  5. Maintain a list of contacts of guardians and parents of students and any other persons who can be contacted in case of emergency.
  6. Maintain a list of contacts of key institutions to work with during the period of COVID-19 or any other emergency situations.

Steps to follow when a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in Diakonia Institute

The administration/staff members of Diakonia Institute will embark on the following interventions when a case of COVID-19 is confirmed in the Institute:

  1. Coordinate with Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary) and local health institutions i.e. Riruta Health Center, Nairobi City Council Dispensary (Dagoretti Corner) Orthodox Health Center- Riruta or directly reach out to the COVID-19 Rapid Response Team and decide on the next course of action.  
  2. Work with the Koinonia Central Administration, the Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary) and local public health institutions to determine safety of the institute, deferral of classes, cleaning, fumigation and disinfection of the Institute. Short-term deferral of classes can last for 2-5 days to allow health officials and Diakonia Institute Administration and Staff members to gain insight on the impact of COVID-19 on the Institute. The Diakonia Administration and health officials will thereafter analyze the situation and decide on whether to extend the duration of deferral and cancellation of events.
  3. Encourage learners, staff members and visitors to maintain social distancing and discourage any form of gathering within the Institute, Halls, Hostels, Restaurants and the Shalom House Garden. Discourage students, staff, and faculty from gathering or socializing anywhere.
  4. Share information with learners, staff members and visitors on decisions and COVID-19 situation in the Institute. Messages should in this case address issues of misinformation, confidentiality, stigma and fake news.
  5. Maintain high standards of hygiene by cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, frequently touched surfaces, washrooms and other common areas thoroughly. Windows and doors should remain open to allow the circulation of air before cleaning begins. Frequently touched surfaces of areas used by the infected person should be closed off and cleaned using a detergent, soap and water prior to disinfection.
  6. Coordinate with Riruta Health Program and local health institutions to decide on whether it is safe to reopen the Institute.
  7. Consult with the Riruta Health Program regarding students, staffs, and visitors who mention that they were taking care of or sharing a common place with an infected person to decide on whether they should integrate with the rest of the students or not. 
  8. Convene staff meeting to strategize and implement the return to normalcy plan for academic and non-academic activities and the feasibility and appropriateness of e-learning and distance learning.
  9. Some of the approaches that the Institute can consider for e-learning and distance learning using existing infrastructure include Skype, Zoom, e-mailing of notes, recorded class lectures, online library services, online study groups, online print materials, phone or internet based counseling support. Staff members will also be trained on how to conduct e-learning and distance learning and how to address cases in which students cannot access on-line facilities.

Safety in Students’ Hostels

The Diakonia Institute Administration will introduce the following measures to ensure safety of learners in the hostels:

  1. Collaborate with Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary) and local health institutions to decide the safety of the Institute’s accommodation facilities.
  2. Educate hostels’ residents on precautions they should observe to prevent COVID-19 and how they should respond to in case there is an outbreak of the disease.
  3. Where no cases of COVID-19 are identified in the hostels, students will continue to reside in their respective rooms and observe public health policies and guidelines of social distancing, washing and sanitizing hands and wearing facemasks.
  4. Residents who might have come into close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 will temporarily relocate from the hostels for quarantine and monitoring of symptoms.
  5. Where cases of COVID-19 are identified among residents, Diakonia Institute will work with Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary) and local health institutions to introduce additional precautions and decide on when and how to move the infected resident to safety.
  6. Once they recover, residents who were infected with COVID-19 will undergo psychological counseling before readmission in the hostels. Fellow residents will also undergo psychological first aid to accept their colleague(s) back in the hostels and to eliminate the occurrence of stigma on the readmitted resident.
  7. Staffs in charge of the hostels residents will be trained on how to respond and protect themselves and residents from the spread of COVID-19. Diakonia Institute will provide adequate cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting supplies. 

COVID-19 Preparedness

Diakonia Institute will consistently be prepared for the outbreak of COVID-19 at institutional and community level. This means that the institute will always maintain healthy practices amongst its staffs, learners and visitors using the strategies below:

  1. Work with Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary) and local health institutions to review, update and implement emergency operations plans. It will promote public health guidelines like social distancing and deferral of learning to stop or slow the spread of infectious disease.
  2. Plan for continuation of learning and other activities that can be offered virtually, including online classes, distance learning, graduation, online study groups and online library facilities etc.
  3. Provide information on personal actions to take in preventing the spread of COVID-19, including self-quarantine, appropriately covering mouths and noses when sneezing, cleaning and sanitizing frequently touched surfaces (door handles, light switches, classroom desks and seats, sink handles, taps, staircase rails, keyboards, computer mouse, window stoppers and hooks etc.) and washing and hands regularly.
  4. Educate staffs, learners and visitor using posters and IEC messages from the Government of Kenya and other credible institutions on how to prevent and respond the spread COVID-19.
  5. Establish a forum on which Diakonia Institute can share information with stakeholders from within and outside the institution. Internal information can be shared in confidence whereby tutors can report cases of unusual absenteeism and change of staff and student health center traffic to the administration. The Administration of Diakonia Institute will consult Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary) and local public health institutions to help analyze the above scenarios before taking the necessary steps of addressing the identified problem.
  6. Consistently monitor and review the staff and student registers and plan for absenteeism by encouraging electronic submission of notes, results and assignments for staffs and students whose attendance might be temporarily affected by COVID-19.
  7. Assess prospective group gatherings and events and their potential of exposing staffs, guardians, students and visitors to COVID-19. Events and gatherings that pose risks to Diakonia stakeholders will be postponed or be held virtually.
  8. Communicate accurate information to students to reduce the potential of panic and stigma. This includes informing students and staffs, students, guardians on (re) scheduling of events and how they can protect themselves from infectious diseases including COVID-19.

Points to consistently consider about COVID-19

The risk of spreading COVID-19 is high when a person regularly interacts with others. Diakonia Institute has thus identified the risk of levels of spreading the epidemic in the institution as follows:

Classroom Session Settings

  • Lowest Risk: Virtual sessions between learners and staff members.
  • More Risk: Lean in-person sessions, activities, and events. Participants should maintain the one meter social distancing without sharing objects. It can be achieved by fusing virtual and in-person sessions or learning in shifts to accommodate leaner sessions.
  • Highest Risk: Congested in-person sessions, activities, and events. This is where students sit close to each other, share classroom materials or supplies, and come into physical contact between sessions and activities.

Students’ Hostel Settings

  • Lowest Risk: Hostels areclosed, where it is possible.
  • More Risk: Hostels are open with few residents and access to common areas like kitchens, washrooms and lounges is regulated
  • Highest Risk: Hostels are open with most residents and access to common areas is not regulated.

APPENDIX

Diakonia Institute COVID19 Preparedness Plan

Overall Objective: The overall objective of this plan is to establish processes that will enable learning to resume/continue at Diakonia Institute during and after the COVID-19 partial lockdown. 

Specific Objectives

  1. Safeguard the continuity of teaching and learning at Diakonia Institute by developing a preparedness plan in the context of COVID-19.
  2. Enhance communication and coordination between Diakonia Institute and key stakeholders in the sectors of education, health, security, private investment, community service and security in the context of COVID-19 preparedness.
  3. Build the capacity of Diakonia Institute to receive learners, teachers, parents/guardians and visitors upon resumption/continuation of learning. 
  4. Promote behaviour that will lead to prevention and management of COVID-19 and therefore uphold the safety of staff members, visitors, and learners.

Target population: This plan targets continuing eighty two learners and about 5 staff members and visitors at Diakonia Institute.

Emergency communication and community engagement

The administration of Diakonia Institute will work with the Sub-county Education Office regarding communication from the Ministry of Education. It will also keenly follow up and implement Ministerial Circulars/directives on COVID-19 college response strategies.

Key contact institutions to network with during the period of COVID-19 or any other emergency situations include:

Health sector: Riruta Health Program (Kivuli Dispensary), Riruta Health Center, Orthodox Clinic Riruta, Nairobi City Council Dispensary (Dagoretti Corner).  

Education sector: Sub-county education officer, Kenya National Examination Council and local primary and secondary schools.

Security sector: Riruta Police Station, Riruta Location Chief’s Office, Community Security Teams (Nyumba Kumi) Initiatives and the Sub-County Commissioner’s office.

Community Based Organizations: Diakonia Institute will work with the Environmental Awareness Organization whereby Stanley Didi will be the link person to accessing public sanitization and fumigation facilities offered by the government, NGOs and private sector.

N/B: Contacts of the above institutions will be displayed on the Diakonia Institute Board to enable communication during emergency.

Communication about COVID-19 from the mass media and social media will be corroborated for facts before being formalized and implemented in Diakonia Institute. The Institute will thus communicate with its staffs and students using verbal, telephone, email and social media messages and engage a psycho-social counselor to handle mental health issues and misconceptions on COVID-19.

The institute already has the contacts of guardians and parents of students and any other persons who can be contacted in case of emergency.

The institute has sufficient water, furniture, classrooms and sanitary facilities in case the institute reopens. However, the facilities require repair before the college resumes its normal operations.

Reporting back of staffs and students

(Re) appointment of a cleaner and tutors should be finalized in the third week of August 2020. This will be followed by a staff meeting to plan for the September reopening of Diakonia Institute.

First priority will be accorded to 27 students who are supposed to sit for Business Management, Social Work, ICT, Secretarial, Front Office, Tourism, Catering, Project Management, KASNEB and ECDE external exams in December 2020. They will report in the first week of September 2020.

The remaining members of the students’ community will report on the third week of September 2020 whereby classes with the more than 12 students namely Menu planning, catering practicals, End User Professional and International Computer Driving License classes will be split into two to comply with social distancing in which students will attend classes in shifts that will run from 8.00 a.m.-8.00 p.m.

Preparedness Plan

ActivitiesResponsibleWhenCosts
Repair of physical facilitiesKoinonia Maintenance TeamAugust 2020Requisition will be presented and reviewed with the Koinonia Central Administration
Provision of COVID-19 logistics i.e. soap, temperature check machine, fumigation and hand-sanitizers for students, staff members and visitorsDiakonia Institute AdministrationAugust 2020‘’
Recruitment of tutors, cleaner and librarianKoinonia Human Resource Office and Diakonia Institute AdministrationAugust 2020‘’
Establishment of online learning facilitiesKoinonia Community Administration and Diakonia Institute Administration andAugust 2020‘’
Development of lecture notesDiakonia Institute TutorsAugust 2020‘’
Devising Quality Assurance mechanisms for lecture notesDiakonia Institute AdministrationAugust 2020‘’
Reporting back of students to the InstituteDiakonia Institute AdministrationSeptember 2020 
Advertisement for September Intake at Diakonia InstituteDiakonia Institute AdministrationJuly 2020‘’
Community engagement and information sharingDiakonia Institute Administration and Stanley DidiContinuous‘’
Conducting risk analysis and response planning (data collection)Diakonia Institute AdministrationContinuous‘’
Establishment of referral mechanisms with local health facilitiesDiakonia Institute Administration and Riruta Health ProgramJuly 2020‘’
Communication with parents, guardians and any other contact personsDiakonia Institute AdministrationContinuous‘’