BY LORAINE MUROMO
TEACHERS unions have called on government to send non-examination classes home as part of measures to decongest schools and tame the spread of COVID-19 which has wreaked havoc in most learning institutions across the country.
Several privately-run boarding schools have suspended classes and sent learners home after recording a surge in infections in the past few days.
Schools are supposed to officially close for end of year on December 17, but teachers unions said one more week was too long given the speed at which the disease was spreading.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union president Obert Masaraure said the majority of schools have become a serious health threat,
“We have been monitoring adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) in schools and adherence is as low as 25%,” Masaraure said.
“The union calls upon the government to temporarily close schools for non-examination classes while we enhance the capacity of our schools to adhere to SOPs. Our schools are a serious national health threat and if we don’t act the nation will soon plunge into a health crisis.”
Progressive Teachers Union president Takavafira Zhou said: “Forget about SOPs, they are non-existent in most schools in Zimbabwe. There is a quandary in schools over invigilation of COVID-19-positive students with many teachers forced to invigilate without protective gear,” Zhou said.
“Many teachers have subsequently contracted the virus. Such command and control tactics have, therefore, endangered the health and safety of other pupils and teachers in schools.”
“If nothing is done as a matter of urgency, there is danger that schools may be virtually abandoned by teachers, or totally converted into quarantine centres rather than function as institutions of learning and teaching.”
But Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said they would stick to the December 17 closing date.