The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) said the government is rushing to reopen schools without first putting in place measures to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus which causes the respiratory illness, COVID-19.
ZIMTA chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu asserted that teachers’ unions are not against the reopening of schools but want the government to guarantee the safety of educators and learners. Ndlovu said:
At the moment we feel there has been the skipping of key checkpoints, which is rather dangerous because we will be just opening schools just for the sake of opening.
What we now need the ministry to do is assure the nation by suggesting and telling us the measures that are now in place which are better off than what is occurring with the June ZIMSEC examinations.
What I must emphasise is that we are not saying let’s not go back to school, we are saying let’s go back to school with the satisfactory conditions that mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic as guided by international best practice.
Ndlovu also urged the government to realise that unions are not trying to sabotage the education sector, saying both parties want the same thing. He said:
Further, I think we have to improve in the relationship between unions and the ministry officials so that the suspicion that we are putting spanners in the education system is dispelled and it must be realised that both of us want the same thing, that is the growth of the education sector.
For schools to reopen, the government said authorities must ensure the availability of face masks, sanitisers, infrared thermometers, liquid soaps, disinfectants, and gloves.
Schools authorities should also provide washing stations within the school premises, hand washing buckets for every class, gowns for school health co-ordinators, holding bays for unwell persons and information education communication materials.