AMALGAMATED Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) on Tuesday rejected an attempt by government to reopen schools during the COVID-19 lock-down period.
Artuz said government should desist from impulsively opening schools before ensuring that it was safe to do so.
The teachers’ union jointly authored petitions with six other unions, demanding that government ensures that measures are taken to make schools safe before learners and teachers returned.
“On May 29, we made submissions to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, making recommendations on conditions that should be met for the safe opening of schools,” read the statement.
Artuz said the announcement by the Minister of Information and Publicity, Monica Mutsvangwa, for the reopening of schools was shocking, considering that their demands had not yet been met.
The communique also noted that prior to the opening schools, complimentary teachers would be needed to achieve social distancing in classrooms.
“On opening schools, 136 000 teachers and almost five million pupils will be admitted in schools: The teacher compliment will have to be boosted by 90 000 to achieve social distancing and plug the gap on staff shortages,” noted the statement.
Accordingly, Artuz has demanded that government moves in to ensure the verifiable fumigation of all schools before they open as well as at regular intervals thereafter.
“Schools that are currently used as quarantine zones should go through rigorous fumigation and confirmed safe by competent personnel in the Ministry of Health and Childcare,” Artuz said.
Futher, the teacher body said there should be rapid testing of all pupils and teachers before schools opened for business and provision of the same at regular intervals.
Artuz implored government to pay a risk allowance to teachers as they were front line workers in the education system.