THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has called for the primary and secondary Education ministry to close schools to protect learners and educators from rising COVID-19 infections.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU AND PATRICIA SIBANDA
A number of schools are recording COVID-19 cases, sending panic among parents, teachers and learners at a time when there has been an increase in confirmed cases across the country.
Government however shot down calls to shut down schools, insisting that all pre-requisite measures to protect learners and teachers are in place.
“It is dangerous for the government to claim that the cases are minimal when it has no capacity to test all teachers, students and ancillary staff in schools,” PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said.
“Many teachers and students are positive but have not yet been tested or are waiting for confirmation of results. COVID-19 cases continue to rise in schools and unless a robust approach is adopted to abate its effects, there will be a disaster in schools.”
A survey by NewsDay revealed that the government was failing to provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE’s) to learners and educators. The majority of schools in Bulawayo are now asking parents to purchase PPE’s to protect teachers and learners.
“Our preparedness to efficiently, effectively and transparently use resources to combat COVID-19 in schools is uppermost now. Without this, the best would be to urgently close schools before the majority of teachers and pupils become victims,” Zhou added.
Reports show that as many as 400 learners and teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 after the last batch of learners returned to class following the government’s phased approach to the re-opening of schools.
Students have been quarantined in other boarding schools, with parents not allowed to visit them.
Meanwhile, National Association of Schools Development and Committees acting president Maxwell Mkandla said schools should tighten regulations to combat the spread of COVID-19.
He made the remarks on Tuesday during a hand over of sanitisers and thermometers donated by parents to Sobukazi High School in Mzilikazi in Bulawayo.
Mkandla, who is also the School Development Committee chairperson of Sobukazi High School, said stringent laws to curb the spread of COVID-19 must be adopted.
“There should be strict measures that should be put in place first and foremost when the child is coming from home.
We must make sure that at the gate of the school, the moment they enter the school yard definitely they must be tested,” he said.