The Government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education prepared a 21 page Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) document on the safe reopening of schools during the covid-19 pandemic.
The document will allegedly provide a quick guide to heads of schools, teachers, learners and stakeholders on providing a safe, inclusive and uninterrupted learning environment for children including those living with disabilities.
The report advised school heads to ensure that their schools abide by the guidelines presented meant to minimise the transmission of covid-19. The comprehensive report has a raft of expectations mainly asking schools to ensure an environment with proper PPEs, covid-19 guidelines, regulations for a workplace, availability of water, adequate wash facilities, and so forth.
Tomorrow October 26, schools will open for Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower Sixth or Form 5. They will open in the second phase of schools reopening and on November 9, ECD A and B, Grades 1 to 5 and Forms 1 and 2 will go back to school. Grade 7, Form 4, and Upper Sixth opened on September 28 in phase one of schools reopening.
As ARTUZ, we are concerned with the lack of schools adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) set by our parent ministry. A perusal of the document and our school observations revealed a lack of adherence to expectations outlined in the document.
As a responsible union that represents rural teachers from some of the most impoverished communities, we have decided to do the following:
1. Monitor adherence to the covid-19 regulations in schools.
We intend to monitor schools and use colour codes to determine the level of adherence to the Ministry’s Standard Operating Procedures. We will circulate a checklist to schools made from the SOP. A score will be given to each individual school with appropriate colour coding. Green would be for a safe school, orange for fairly safe, red for hazardous, and purple for extremely hazardous. These colours would be placed visibly on monitored schools to advise school children, parents, staff, and others for their safety at a school.
We realised the chaos that went on in schools during the first phase due to the absence of teachers. We are concerned with examination classes. We have decided to do the following:
2. As ARTUZ we will not be teaching in schools because of the ensuing labour dispute with our employer. But as a Union for pro poor education, we feel duty bound to assist the poor learners being neglected by government. We will conduct alternative lessons to bridge the gap of access to education. We teach some of the most affected learners in rural areas that do not have access to on-line learning. The public lessons would be carried out with social distancing to avoid covid-19. ARTUZ will invite teachers who wish to participate in this initiative to register. We will then advertise encouraging learners to meet up with the teachers in different locations.
We hope the government will ensure adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures. The 21 page SOP should not only be good on paper. The government should also quickly solve the teachers plight to make sure that we go back to the classes where we belong. Our demand for a salary of USD 520 per month, for us to go back to classes, still stands. It is our view that exams should be deferred to 2021.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)