By Costa Nkomo
FIREBRAND teachers’ group, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) says government should close schools by Friday this week or it will order its members to abandon duty for fear of contracting the deadly coronavirus.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa Tuesday announced a raft of measures being implemented by his administration to try and minimise the possible outbreak and spread of the deadly disease in Zimbabwe.
These include a two-month ban on weddings, church congregations and other public gatherings of more than 100 people.
He elected to keep the country’s schools open until their scheduled closing day 2 April.
Mnangagwa said schools will continue operating with “standard screening precautions” being taken by authorities daily.
But ARTUZ felt this was an omission by authorities who were endangering the lives of both teachers and school children, who are the most vulnerable group in society.
In a letter dated 18 March 2020 addressed to the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, ARTUZ spokesperson Robson Chere said the majority of rural schools have no running water which further exposed teachers and students to coronavirus.
Chere felt if schools were closed earlier, there would be minimal, if any loses to schools whose students traditionally sat for examinations in the third term.
“Therefore, in the wake of this pandemic, ARTUZ wishes to advise the ministry to immediately close all government schools on the 20th of March 2020, failure to that, ARTUZ will not hesitate to withdraw its members from schools.
“Further to that, we request for an Education Sector Indaba to further dialogue on strategies that we might take to upscale our preparedness in the face of Coronavirus,” he said.
To date, Coronavirus, officially named the COVID-19, has claimed more than 8,908 lives around the globe with World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring the virus a global pandemic.
Zimbabwe health authorities said the country is yet to record a confirmed case of the disease at a time neighbouring South Africa has recorded 116 cases, according to the coronavirus worldometer https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/#countries.