Keep Our Schools Safe From COVID-19
Disinfection of classrooms in line with protocols to protect learners and educators should be prioritised.
The re-opening of schools came after a long period of school closures, there was adequate time to make learning institutions safe, all responsible stakeholders should rise to the occasion.
BULAWAYO (The Citizen Bulletin) — The reopening of schools in late August brought much relief to almost all stakeholders, particularly learners who had endured months of being “idle”.
During the unexpected, long ‘break’, reports were rampant that some learners were entangled in countless vices. Sadly some girls fell pregnant while others were married off by their families.
Substance abuse was another problematic issue.
Such incidents raised questions on moral decadence, engulfing the youth, pressuring for schools’ speedy reopening.
Ordinarily, the announcement that schools would reopen on August 30 must have relieved everybody. Sadly that is not the case.
During the prolonged closure and with COVID-19 still much with us, we would have expected that school authorities, government, teacher unions and schools development communities were hard at work preparing for the eventual resumption of learning.
Disinfection of classrooms in line with protocols to protect learners and educators would have been one of the top priorities. In one of our featured articles in this edition, we highlight that little preparation was done, with a battle of words ensuing among various authorities.
In brief, the government had indicated that it availed $600 million for disbursement to schools under the SOP’s to improve sanitation and enable them to reopen safely.
Under the exercise, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), authorities said the money would be used to, among others, improve sanitation and purchase Protective Clothing Equipment (PPEs) for learners and teachers.
We are hardly surprised that teacher unions are questioning its availability, with some parents claiming that they are made to contribute to procurement of Personal Protective Equipment.
It will not be mischievous to ask for a detailed breakdown of the disbursement of the money from ward level schools to national ones. We say so because the safety of our children and educators must be prioritised.
Parents and guardians cannot freely send their children to school, fearing that they might contract the deadly virus. Already some learners and educators have tested positive for the virus since the resumption of schools.
We appeal to all stakeholders to set aside their deference’s and work as a united force to ensure the learning environment is safe for everyone. Squabbling among authorities is self-defeating. COVID-19 knows no bounds. Its affects everybody, but its venom can be reduced if we fight together.
In other equally serious matters, being stateless in one’s country had been a painful experience for thousands of San Community members in Matabeleland North. The affected, mainly the youth, have missed out on education, employment opportunities and countless government-funded empowerment initiatives.
Beginning 13 September, the Registrar General’s office rolled out a documentation programme for all eligible people from the San Community.
This is commendable.
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We appeal that the programme is the first of many targeting the marginalised San Community. We hope that employment opportunities, decent schools, health facilities and other social amenities will also be availed to the community.
No one must be left behind.
However, we strongly appeal to people who might be entertaining hopes of invading the San Community for exploitation, be it political or otherwise, to refrain from such.
The San, like another community, has rights under the Constitution. They should be not be used for one’s political expediency. We feel they should be allowed to use their judgment in political matters or developmental without much undue interference.
They have endured a lot, and a further burden is not warranted now and at other times.
This edition also highlights a continuing worrying trend of the continued abuse of mine workers particularly those contracted by Chinese companies. The calls have become too loud for relevant authorities to continue turning a blind eye!
Matabeleland, in its diversity, across issues, has been captured in this instalment. Read on, and as always, your feedback is the fuel that drives us.
Schools re-opening, COVID-19, Disinfection of classrooms, Standard Operating Procedures, Poor personal protective equipment, Bulawayo
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