By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) has warned against plans to reopen schools by government before putting in place adequate measures to protect learners from the risk of contracting Covid-19.
In a statement Thursday, the commission urged authorities against using a blanket form of intervention towards the challenge.
The rights commission also called on authorities to conduct a needs assessment at needy schools such as those in the rural, farming and high-density communities so as to identify specific gaps and needs and offer adequate support before opening of schools.
“Government should issue out a form of certification for compliance with the set Covid-19 precautionary guidelines to schools that would have met the set standards for them to open.
“Measures must be set out on how those (schools) that would have failed to meet the certification standards will be assisted for them to re-open together with others in line with the principles of non-discrimination and equality,” said ZHRC.
The rights commission’s position comes after government has announced that all schools will be open on July 28 this year after an unprecedented four month closure due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
But the commission said the plans must be backed by clear details on measures which have been put in place regarding the resumption of school learning and the schools that were being used as quarantine centres.
The rights protection authority said there was also need to ensure thorough Covid-19 screening was carried out as opposed to mere measurement of body temperature.
Said ZHRC, “The Education Ministry should provide schools with clear guidelines, checklists and a comprehensive work plans with timelines, in relation to opening of schools, specifying the responsible actors as well as types and sources of resources required for each aspect of the preparatory process.”
The commission further said safety measures must be guaranteed first before schools open and also called on authorities to work closely with parents’ associations over the matter.
ZHRC said the recommendations were informed by findings from several enquiries indicating that most learners were feeling unsafe over the idea of returning to school outside the implementation of adequate measures.