THE talk of opening schools now when the COVID-19 is ravaging citizens and without a remedy or clear mechanism to curtail its spread is shamelessly insensitive, foolish and reckless.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused seismic disruptions to every fabric of our lives, including education but the priority must always be to preserve lives at whatever cost. Reopening schools should, therefore, should be a priority given the possible widespread threat of increasing infections and, with them, deaths.
Reopening of schools is of secondary importance. Last week the government announced that schools should heighten preparations for reopening for the second term with fumigation of buildings and grounds in progress.
When Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post-Cabinet media briefing recently that schools should begin preparations for reopening, she added a caveat that parents must provide their children with personal protective equipment.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro last week expressed satisfaction with the progress in fumigation of schools in preparation for their reopening.
He gave examples of schools such as Ntuthuko Primary, Sinqobile Primary, Makulubise Primary, and Mahlalufikile Primary, all in Lupane district in Matabeleland North province and mentioned quite a number of schools across the country that he claimed had adopted COVID-19 fighting mechanisms with infrastructure refurbishment to meet those standards included.
The sad scenario is that despite those claims, it is a fact that most rural people have not been vaccinated and are in serious danger should there be outbreaks at schools. It is sad that the government takes the dangers posed by COVID-19 at schools lightly.
Teachers unions have been telling government that schools are not yet ready to reopen considering that most educators are still to be vaccinated and are not psychologically prepared for schools reopening.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe have all been clear about the dangers posed by the virus to pupils, teachers and even parents.
We urge the government and the Primary and Secondary Education minister to listen to the voice of reason and stop this talk of schools opening now and, instead, work towards capacitating schools for virtual learning.
Rather than the government channelling a lot of funds towards buying the useless Political Actors Dialogue principals expensive cars, it makes sense for the funds to be utilised on COVID-19 programmes.
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