GWANDA State University (GSU) has ordered lecturers to resume duties during the lockdown period to develop online teaching materials and prepare them to receive returnees from neighbouring countries.
BY SILAS NKALA
On Monday, the lecturers raised concern that 16 of them were cramped in one small office and risked contracting the coronavirus.
In a statement sent to Southern Eye on Tuesday, GSU spokesperson Walter Ndlovu said the move enabled effective supervision and co-ordination of efforts in developing online teaching materials.
“Lecturers were also to receive training on online teaching as well as online handling of assignments and examinations. We also intended to make thorough preparations for the possible return of students, to co-ordinate and facilitate the involvement and participation of our members of staff who are serving on various provincial and national committees working on COVID-19 activities,” Ndlovu said.
“It was meant to also prepare to receive returnees from neighbouring countries and beyond given that the university was identified as one of the quarantine sites in the Insiza district.”
Ndlovu said the performance of the aforementioned tasks and others required staff to be on the ground.
“You may wish to know that unlike other universities in Zimbabwe, Gwanda State University is able to accommodate its entire staff on campus because the staff complement is still small. Issues of social distancing are, therefore, easy to observe. Staff responded to the call to report for work overwhelmingly and work on the aforementioned tasks and others is proceeding well,” he said.
“While it is true that our staff share offices, the magnitude of sharing is nowhere near 16 people per office given to you by your informant. The average rate of sharing is two per office. Staff do not necessarily have to go to their offices for work; they can operate from the comfort of their campus homes.”
Ndlovu said the university had no capacity to test all staff members since it relied on the government for resources, particularly the test kits.
He said some were tested on May 7 by officials from Filabusi District Hospital.
“The university has a state-of-the-art clinic on site which staff can visit should they suspect any coronavirus symptom,” Ndlovu said, adding that positive cases would be referred to Filabusi District Hospital.
Ndlovu said they installed facilities for handwashing with other soap at points of entry and convenient places.
However, Ndlovu admitted that staff shared computers in the laboratory which were primarily for use by students. He said they were in the process of organising an employer-assisted laptop purchase scheme in partnership with a local financial institution.