By Bulawayo Correspondent
SCHOOLS across the country reopened Monday with the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) expressing concern over the safety of teachers and pupils over new Covid-19 infections.
Schools closed on December 18, 2020 after briefly opening last year and were set to reopen on January 4, 2021.
The reopening was indefinitely postponed following a spike in Covid-19 infections and deaths in the country.
Examination classes commenced lessons last week while the rest of learners resumed Monday.
However, according to PTUZ, some schools do have proper Covid-19 preventive measures in place.
“There has been no prioritisation of the health and safety of pupils, ancillary staff and a few teachers that have reported for work. Some are congregating in schools without testing for Covid-19, running water, masks and sanitisers,” said PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
Zhou said teachers under the Federation of Zimbabwe Education Union had notified the Public Service Commission (PSC), President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education and the Education Ministry that their members would not be reporting for work until the teachers’ legitimate grievances over salaries, health and safety are addressed.
Addressing journalists in Bulawayo Friday, acting Mpilo chief executive Solwayo Ngwenya also expressed reservations over the opening of schools.
“I am against schools opening because what is happening is children have become vectors. A vector is something that moves the disease. School children will move the disease as they attend school. Kombis and buses will be full once again and school children may infect teachers, go home and infect the parents. This happened in South Africa,” noted Ngwenya.
He said he would rather prefer the deferment on the reopening of schools until the Covid-19 threat is minimal.
“In 1977, during the liberation struggle, some of us sat for four years without going to school. Why sacrifice lives for someone who can learn later? Here I am yet in 1977, I stayed for four years without schooling. Let us not sacrifice our lives for something which we can wait. This is not a normal situation. March 18 half a million people across the globe were infected with Covid-19. That is why I prioritise safety and prevention at all costs,” said Ngwenya.