The government has declared a national emergency in face of the deadly coronavirus. Public gatherings have been banned but schools are to remain open. This move has sparked outrage among teachers and Union leaders who would have preferred closing of all schools.
Zimbabwean schools close on 2 April for the first term holiday, which is two weeks from now. The unfortunate part is that our schools are not ready to prevent wholesale spreading of the coronavirus and our healthcare has totally collapsed. Most schools do not set any end of term examinations for first term and schools are already winding down.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ appreciates the national mood at the moment and we will not make pronouncements that will cause panic and despondency among our people.
We have always been at loggerheads with government on many issues and we remain fiercly opposed to many of their policies.
We will however avoid confrontation on this issue in the best interest of public health. We will humbly submit our request of having schools closed on 20 March 2020.
Upon closure of schools we are calling for an Education Sector Health indaba to dialogue on how we can upscale our preparedness in face of the coronavirus.
Second term comes in our winter and if the virus is not contained by then things will be worse and lives are certainly going to be lost. The education sector should be ready by then to mitigate against the spreading of the virus.
Our Union proposes setting up of a taskforce comprising of Union leaders, education officials, health experts and other relevant players to lead the fight against covid-19 in the education sector.
Meanwhile here are some quick tips on how to protect ourselves from the virus.
- Wash hands often (soap+water or alcohol-based rub)
- Avoid touching face
- Cover mouth when coughing w/ elbow or tissue
- Maintain 1 metre between yourself, anyone who is coughing/sneezing
- Avoid crowds
- Limit travel
- Stay home if ill
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ