University and college lecturers and students have written to the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Innovation Science and Technology Development requesting the suspension of face to face lectures.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Professor Fanuel Tagwira, the Council of Student Teachers (COST) and the College Lecturers Association of Zimbabwe (COLAZ) appealed to authorities to temporally allow colleges and universities to conduct online tuition only, until such a time COVID-19 lockdown measures are relaxed. They wrote:
In light of the recent announcement of an intensified lockdown by the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, that came into effect on Monday 14 June 2021, the Lecturers’ and Students Organisations wish to appeal to your office to suspend face to face learning in our colleges of higher learning in light of the threat of a third COVID-19 wave.
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We also write in response to a recent circular from the Ministry, directing that learning in our colleges should continue under strict observance of COVID-19 protocols and WHO guidelines.
COST and COLAZ said the worrisome COVID-19 situation at institutions at higher learning is clear, with Bondolfi and Morgenster Teacher’s Colleges recently placed under quarantine following coronavirus outbreaks.
They also pointed out that most universities and colleges conduct mass lectures with little regard to social distancing.
The challenge is also compounded by the fact that there is a shortage of PPEs and sanitisers and most students commute from home.
The two organisations also stated that college health facilities are not adequately enhanced to handle any outbreaks and lecturers, who are in the vulnerable age groups, and happen to be the most experienced, are at high risk.