Reopening of Schools Potential COVID-19 Surge

Ronald Chigwada

Teachers’ unions have reiterated the need to invest in education to ensure a safe environment for learners and prevent absenteeism of teachers in schools, this came in light of challenges faced by teachers as schools reopened for the rest of pupils back to school.

In an interview with the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) Deputy Secretary-General Munyaradzi Masiyiwa noted that there is chaos in schools as there are not enough personal protective equipment and other necessities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Masiyiwa went on to say that this situation has been worsened by teachers’ situation as they could not afford and also manage to attend to their respective schools due to lack of transport and traveling expenses.

According to the teachers’ union update, the education sector is ill-prepared as there are not enough sanitizers, no running water in schools, only a few thermometers are available for screening with inadequate infrastructural development to guarantee social distance amongst other issues.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) confirmed that though schools may open, the availability of teachers in schools is not guaranteed as there not prepared to report for duty.

“Fundamentally, teachers have no money to pay fees for their own children, pay for transport costs to their respective stations, and for their upkeep up to September payday. To assume that teachers can borrow money in order to go to their respective stations whilst their own children remain confined at home is oxymoronic”, said Takavafira Zhou PTUZ president.

Despite forking out large amounts of money to purchase uniforms and
unexpected increased school fees, some of the parents and guardians who managed to speak to Community Radio Harare CORAH, expressed excitement on the reopening of schools after such a long period.

CORAH noted transport challenges amongst parents and guardians as they were accompanying borders to schools and pick up points to be ferried by their institution buses.

At the recently held stakeholders meeting, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) together with the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA warned about the low number of teachers who have been vaccinated and also voiced that lack of preparedness will turn the school into COVID-19 hotspots and super-spreaders.

In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 some boarding schools have already organized temporary holding and sick bays in preparation for any positive case.

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