BY LORRAINE MUROMO
TEACHERS’ unions yesterday accused government of failing to come up with tangible mechanisms to curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
This follows warnings by health experts that there was bound to be COVID-19 implosion at boarding schools with unvaccinated pupils at a high risk of catching the deadly respiratory virus during the third wave of the pandemic.
Last Wednesday, St David’s Bonda Girls High School, a boarding school in Manicaland province, reported 74 infections — about 70% of the 105 cases recorded nationally on the day.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou yesterday told NewsDay that government was still failing to provide adequate finances for procurement of personal protective equipment in schools.
“The blame must be squarely laid on government for failure to come up with a robust intervention plan to combat COVID-19 in schools. The $750 million given by the government to buy COVID-19 abatement equipment has not filtered to schools,” he
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has not recruited adequate teachers to guarantee a 1:20 teacher-pupil ratio. Bloated classes are the order of the day, while hostels are congested, thereby leading to a quantum leap of COVID-19 cases in schools.”
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union national co-ordinator Wonder Nyapokoto urged government to speed up the testing of teachers and pupils.
“Schools must be temporarily closed in areas where COVID-19 is rampant. With the coming cold winter season, the disease’s impact may be exacerbated. Total awareness campaigns of COVID-19 vaccines should be conducted,” he said.
Community Working Group on Health executive director Itai Rusike said full implementation of the education COVID-19 preparedness and response strategy that was developed by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry should take place.
“In order to ensure continuity of learning, there is need to ensure implementation of key activities aimed at maintaining quality learning and well-being of teachers, learners and school communities during the COVID-19 emergency,” he said.
In a statement, Shamwari Yemwanasikana director Ekenia Chifamba said: “We implore government to continue making strides and putting measures that ensure that learners are protected from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The ministry last week said it had intensified adherence to the standard operating procedures against COVID-19 and other influenza-like diseases.