Schools now certified homes of mass transmission of Covid-19: ARTUZ

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) says schools have become ‘certified homes for mass transmission of Covid-19’ owing to a lack of adequate protective resources at the learning institutions. 

A number of schools in the country have recorded Covid-19 cases, the hardest hit being John Tallach Secondary School which has so far recorded 184 cases. 

ARTUZ national spokesperson, Nation Mudzitirwa noted that schools are failing to cope due to limited resources. 

“The government of Zimbabwe produced Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs for our schools in the face of COVID19. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, MoPSE requested ZWL $ 21 billion from Treasury to implement the SOPs. MoPSE only received ZWL$ 600 million for safe schools opening,” said Mudzitirwa. 

“The amount was inadequate and cannot be easily accounted for by duty bearers. Schools are failing to comply with the SOPs because of lack of resources. Our schools have become the ideal home for massive transmission of the Corona Virus given the numbers hosted in schools in the absence of requisite safety measures.”

Mudzitirwa said their union warned government against the premature opening of schools through its report “Education in Crisis Report,” but to no avail. 

“The reports from Chinhoyi High School and John Tallach among others are just but a tip of the ice berg. In remote areas learners with a fever are just being sent back home without conducting any test. They are having to rely on their natural immunity to survive in a clear case of the primitive survival of the fittest. Those with weak immunity are set to lose lives and might not be officially recorded as COVID19 cases,” he said.  

ARTUZ recommended that the government postpones the November 2020 public examinations to 2021 and to immediately withdraw of all phase 3 learners from schools until the situation is contained. 

“There is need for urgent funding of implementation of SOPs. All stakeholders should monitor the disbursement of COVID19 resources and all teachers and learners with underlying conditions must resort to remote learning,” Mudzitirwa said. 

He added that ARTUZ has since launched a schools assessment program to evaluate the compliance of schools to government set, Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs and the results being obtained are worrying. 

“The results being gathered are pointing to a disaster. The national average rating for our public schools is standing at 30% , which is way below the average. Our schools are failing to comply with SOPs because of under funding. We are set to lose more lives to COVID19 if  solutions are not panned out,” he said. 

The leader of government business in parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi said schools will remain open and the country will have  “to adapt and live in the new normal.”

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