Mass testing as pupils test positive

Source: Mass testing as pupils test positive | The Herald

Mass testing as pupils test positive

Nqobile Tshili

Bulawayo Bureau

THREE Lower Six pupils at Girls College in Bulawayo contracted Covid-19, forcing the school to conduct mass testing on learners in selected classes and staff members on Tuesday.

The pupils who tested positive have gone into mandatory isolation in line with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s standard operating procedures.

While Lower Six pupils are yet to be enrolled at public schools as the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) is yet to release 2020 Ordinary Level results, those in private schools that sit for Cambridge examinations have resumed classes.

Girls College headmistress Mrs Les Ross said the school has taken all the precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus.

“We had three of our learners contracting Covid-19 and that was before the Easter Holiday break. 

“They were three boarders who intended to go for Easter holiday to South Africa and had to go for (Covid-19) testing. 

“So, they tested positive and their parents did the right thing and let us know because the pupils were here. 

“We did the right thing, we did as much contact tracing as we could with the assistance of the Covid-19 taskforce who have been guiding us with the process with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in the loop as well,” said Mrs Ross.

She said the pupils who tested positive are isolating at their homes. 

Mrs Ross said as a precautionary measure, the school conducted Covid-19 tests on both learners and staff members on Tuesday as school reopened after the holiday break.

“Yesterday when the girls came back they were tested including the grounds staff, maintenance staff, and teachers,” said Mrs Ross,

She said the national Covid-19 taskforce was dealing with possible new infections.

“Some tested positive (using the antigen) then negative. The antigen tests had a few positive cases but when the same individuals took the PCR tests, they tested negative,” she said. 

Mrs Ross said the school was also counselling pupils so that it addresses stigma associated with Covid-19 positive tests.

“We are very, very strong on counselling and yesterday while they were being tested the principal and the vice principal moved around discussing with pupils and we also have a qualified nursing sister who was counselling the pupils,” said Mrs Ross.

She has also written to parents and guardians informing them of the Covid-19 positive cases recorded at the school, including measures that the institution took to address the situation. Bulawayo provincial education director Mrs Ollicah Khaira said she was still waiting for a briefing from the school which she expects today. 

The SOP demand that schools limit the number of pupils per class to 35 learners for social distancing purposes while pupils have to wear face masks and have a staggered break time to prevent crowding in schools.

The Primary and Secondary Education Ministry recently said through the adoption of SOP, no pupil died of Covid-19 last year with Cabinet saying from 4,5 million learners only 332 pupils contracted the virus.

Schools are encouraged to strictly adhere to SOP guidelines with pupils with flu like symptoms not supposed to come to school until they recover.