BY VANESSA GONYE/TAFADZWA KACHIKO
GOVERNMENT has claimed that it has managed to contain COVID-19 in schools as the first term comes to an end today, but teacher unions scoffed at the claims.
Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the ministry drew lessons from last term when schools were hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of schools, in particular boarding schools, including universities and colleges, were forced to send learners home as new infections soared.
“We have improved well from the previous state of affairs in schools regarding COVID-19 management. Active cases never went above 1 000 and many of these cases were asymptomatic. The recently started vaccination blitz has also aided us in ensuring the disease is managed in schools,” Ndoro said.
But teacher unions said the ministry never supported schools in the COVID-19 fight.
“Schools had to depend on well-wishers and former old students’ associations for reprieve. It is clear there was need for a broad intervention policy more crafted in practical intervention,” Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union president Obert Masaraure said: “The government once again left our learners and teachers exposed to the pandemic. The new strains of COVID-19 seem to be less virulent and that is the only reason why schools were not forced to close.”
Meanwhile, the Passengers Association of Zimbabwe (PAZ) has expressed concern over the wanton disregard of COVID-19 safety regulations by State transport operator Zupco and commuters.
“Zupco is on the offside on fumigation of buses, sanitisation of passengers, enforcement of masks as required by the regulations and Zupco buses are being overloaded to the doorstep,” PAZ acting spokesperson Andrew Chibanda said.
Zupco chief executive Evaristo Madangwa was not responding to calls or messages sent to him.
COVID-19 National Taskforce co-ordinator Agness Mahomva said COVID-19 restrictions, including mask wearing remain in force.
“We will then find ways to make sure that enforcement is really in line. One of the taskforce’s standing recommendations is to continue with strict enforcement of COVID-19 regulations,” she said.