We are afraid of contracting Covid-19: School support staff in a letter to authorities

Non-teaching staff members at Pumula High school have raised concerns that they are still made to report for work at a time when schools are closed saying they fear contracting Covid-19.

Schools were closed in March as part of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

They went meant to reopen on July 28 but government deferred the opening due to a rise in Covid-19 cases.

To date the country has recorded 2 704 Covid-19 positive cases with 36 deaths.

In a letter appealing for intervention seen by CITE, the non-teaching staff members said they fear to contract the virus while on duty.

“We are members of Pumula High School non- teaching staff, we are aggrieved by our headmistress Mrs Linda Ncube who has ordered us to continue reporting for work despite government proclamation that schools should close,” read the letter.

“We have been reporting for duty since the beginning of lockdown, the headmistress says she has a right to decide what to do to keep the school running despite the Covid-19 pandemic. We fear for our lives and those of our families in light of the pandemic. We may end up getting infected from the premises and passing the disease to our loved ones.”

Contacted for a comment, the school headmistress said the only workers at the school are those employed by the School Development Committee (SDC).

“The only people on the premises are those employed by SDC, we have farming projects running at the school,” said Ncube.

“We saw that our projects were going to be affected, so we said they should continue looking after those projects together with a security guard manning the school.”

She said the members have adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to protect them against Covid-19.

“Those who are on ground have PPE and sanitizers. They take turns it’s just two people per day,” added Ncube.

Khami District Schools Inspector Jane Ndebele said there was nothing amiss with the workers` situation.

“There is a lockdown but it doesn’t stop us to be checking schools, what if schools open next week, will children come into an isolated school? There are ongoing projects at the school and it is where those employees get salaries from, it is their livelihood,” said Ndebele.

“Children are not paying school fees at the moment, so they are getting paid from projects happening at the school. There are so many projects and usually it’s just people close by who just go there to check those projects, pick up eggs for resale and so on because we were going to find the school disserted when we re-open,” she said.

I often go there to inspect and I have seen one or two people with masks observing social distancing, Ndebele added.

Bulawayo Provincial Education Director, Olicah Kaira declined to comment on the matter.

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