BY VANESSA GONYE
PLAYERS in the education sector have urged government to reconsider its decision to reopen primary and secondary schools, which is scheduled for Tuesday next week, given rising cases of COVID-19 infections and fatalities around the country.
In an interview with NewsDay, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)’s president Obert Masaraure said the continued incapacitation of teachers coupled with the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic would likely distruct the smooth opening of schools as planned on January 4.
“The incapacitation crisis, COVID-19 crisis and Cyclone Chalane crisis will make it impossible for schools to efficiently open doors for learning.
“The education crisis of 2020 will definitely spill into 2021 as no fundamental interventions were instituted during the brief holiday.
“ARTUZ will escalate the #SaveOurEducationZW campaign in a bid to unite education stakeholders to force government to account on the front of delivering inclusive quality education,” he said.
Community Working Group on Health executive director, Itai Rusike said government should exercise caution as it prepares to open schools on January 4 2021.
Rusike, who cited the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, said government should put in place adequate and practical precautionary measures to ensure the safety of the leaners, teachers, support staff and the community at large from the COVID-19.
“As our COVID-19 cases continue to escalate, with the second wave of transmission already upon us, with the looming threat of the new COVID-19 variant posing a serious concern for the populace, the government of Zimbabwe should exercise extreme caution as it prepares to open schools on January 4 2021.”
“There is still a lot that needs to be done before the government can safely open the schools in terms of provision of PPEs to learners, teachers and support staff, infection prevention and control measures, availability of suitable transport, uninterrupted supply of clean and safe water and the COVID-19 literacy,” he said.
Rusike said the reopening of schools was inevitable due to the writing of the outstanding examination papers that spilled into 2021 but it should be done when it was extremely safe to do so.
“Lack of involvement of parents and other key stakeholders in the preparations for the schools reopening has left parents worried and concerned about the safety of their children.
“The risk of COVID-19 transmission for schoolchildren is potentially higher if adequate measures are not put in place to ensure proper wearing of face masks, handwashing, temperature screening and physical distancing.”