Teachers’ unions have said despite the Government’s position on preparations being put in place for the reopening of schools they were maintaining a wait and see approach noting that they were insisting that more measures be implemented in light of the surge in infections being experienced in the country.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said while they were supporting the phased reopening approach their worry was the provision of a safe operational environment for both teachers and pupils.
“At the moment we feel there has been the skipping of key checkpoints, which is rather dangerous because we will be just opening schools just for the sake of opening.
What we now need the ministry to do is assure the nation by suggesting and telling us the measures that are now in place which are better off than what is occurring with the June Zimsec examinations,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He said their members were apprehensive on the conditions being put in place revealing that while they had not engaged the ministry on their position since the start of the June examinations, they would soon be approaching Government so as to map a way forward.
“What I must emphasize is that we are not saying let’s not go back to school, we are saying let’s go back to school with the satisfactory conditions that mitigate the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic as guided by international best practice.
Further, I think we have to improve in the relationship between unions and the ministry officials so that the suspicion that we are putting spanners in the education system is dispelled and it must be realized that both of us want the same thing, that is the growth of the education sector,” said Dr Ndlovu.
According to the guidelines set up by the Government for schools to open, authorities must ensure the availability of face masks, sanitizers, infrared thermometers, liquid soaps, disinfectants, gloves, hand washing stations within the school premises, hand washing buckets for every class, gowns for school health co-ordinators, holding bays for unwell persons and information education communication materials.
They should also appoint trained school health co-ordinators before re-opening, conduct Covid-19 awareness programmes for everyone in the school about prevention, schedule regular cleaning of the school environment daily, including toilets, with water and soap.
Toilets for both staff and learners should be cleaned and disinfected three times a day and every classroom should have a bin for waste disposal and such waste should be disposed of by burning or burying daily while classes should not accommodate more than 35 pupils.