Harare-Reopening of schools in Zimbabwe could elevate the risk of spreading Covid-19 because most of the classes cannot ensure social distancing guidelines by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) has warned.
In a statement, ZIMTA said reopening of schools without adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in local schools is another danger which the Government should look at before it allows schools to reopen.
The statement reads: “Taking a closer look at the Zimbabwean education set up vis -a- vis the World Health Organisation guidelines on social distancing, we can already see that there is conflict.
“Availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in schools is another area of concern. Looking at the way Government has handled industry by merely giving instruction without the financial backing in regards to the issue of testing employees, leaves a lot to be desired.
“Average classes have a teacher to pupil ratio of about 1: 60 and such a large class cannot ensure effective social distancing.
“Without effective social distancing in schools, these institutions will easily turn into high infection zones with catastrophic results. Government needs to attend to that before there is any talk of re-opening schools.
ZIMTA said the alternative would be to split a class into two to ensure social distancing but this, however, requires the Government to employ another teacher for the other half.
The association added that some other schools are urging the Government to give the burden of PPEs to parents.
ZIMTA added that, reopening of schools in the middle of the pandemic is not feasible with the health sector making use of the classes as quarantine centres for people coming form abroad.
“This raises the simple question, where are these classes expected to be carried out if these institutions are being used as quarantine centres?
“Re-opening of schools whilst hordes of people from the diaspora are being transported in from COVID-19 infested regions might be just as good as opening Pandora’s box.
“The quarantine process of returnees has been marred by the huge influx of border jumpers who are taking advantage of some of the countries’ porous border posts, leaving the country vulnerable to further infections.
“…schools are being used as COVID-19 quarantine centres,” reads the statement.
Meanwhile, the association also encouraged the Government to train teachers in effectively and safely handling their students in regards to Covid-19.