Seven teachers’ unions have petitioned the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cain Mathema, to defer the reopening of schools until the novel coronavirus is effectively contained.
In a petition addressed to Mathema on Tuesday, the teachers put forward 15 demands that they want the government to meet to guarantee their safety.
The petition was signed by the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers’ Union, Zimbabwe National Teachers’ Union, Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Educators’ Union. It read in part:
We, the undersigned teachers’ unions in Zimbabwe, therefore, urge the government to ensure that coronavirus is totally brought under control before the opening of schools.
Among other things, the teachers demanded that the government fumigate all schools before they reopen and ensure that all pupils and teachers be retested at regular intervals. They wrote:
Fumigate all schools before schools open and at regular intervals thereafter. Schools that are currently used as quarantine centres should go through rigorous fumigation and confirmed safe by the Health and Child Care ministry.
Ensure the testing of all pupils and teachers and provision of the same at regular intervals, pay risk allowances to teachers as in essence they are frontline workers in the education system.
The government has since revealed that Ordinary Level and Advanced Levels pupils will start the June 2020 examinations on the 29th of June, with lessons for all classes set to resume in a staggered approach in the next few weeks.