Teachers have implored the government to ensure that all learning facilities are well equipped with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by the time schools open to ensure prevention of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Schools in Zimbabwe were closed before the end of the first term after President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a national lockdown as means to curb the spread of the pandemic.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), Monday, issued a statement urging the government to stock up sanitisers, gloves and masks at schools such that when learning institutions finally open, there would be enough material for both teachers and learners.
“Procure thousands of bottles of hand sanitizers to be distributed for use in every school. Each individual learner is to be supplied with a mask and gloves on a daily basis, which should also be replaceable at any particular time,” read the statement.
“Temperature kits must be procured in huge numbers and must be distributed at every station before schools open.”
ZIMTA lamented the current classrooms teacher, pupil ratio citing that it defies the requirements of social distancing.
“The current teacher, pupil ratio of 1: 70 on average overcrowds classes and needs to be revised. This is indeed fertile ground for coronavirus to spread. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must put in place measures to ensure that there will be social distancing by reducing class sizes,” the statement read.
“As a matter of urgency, classes sizes must be re-organised during this lock down, so that should attendance and learning commence, class sizes manageable and enabling for social distancing to occur. All measures that would have been put in place should be publicised.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure expressed disappointment over the manner in which the Ministry of Health and Child Care has discharged its duties in dealing with the pandemic citing there was no hope that the education sector would be safe.
Masaraure said due to failure by the health ministry to conduct mass testing, tracing and isolation of suspected cases, he reiterated their position that schools should only be opened when the virus has been fully contained, with teachers and learners only being readmitted in schools after being tested.
“Reports of people leaving quarantine centres before the expiry of the mandatory 21 days are an embarrassment. Incidences of COVID-19 victims dying and being buried before positive results of tests are announced are an indictment of the efficiency of our health system,” he said.
“Given this background of a collapsed health care system, it will be foolhardy for anyone to even imagine schools opening anytime soon.”
Masaraure added that schools should be disinfected, PPE be provided, sanitizers be availed and social distancing be enforced.
“ARTUZ will stand firm to defend the continued closure of schools, we will not condone the mass decimation of workers and our learners through the premature and ill-conceived opening of schools.”