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Teachers trained to combat

by Staff reporter
31 Aug 2021 at 06:07hrs | Views
SCHOOLS reopened smoothly yesterday for examination classes with over 63 percent of teachers having been trained on standard operating procedures, as Government mulls training auxiliary staff including food handlers and bus crews to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

So far, over 63 percent of teachers have been trained on standard operating procedures whose implementation should avert the spread of Covid-19 in schools. Since the outbreak of the global pandemic in Zimbabwe, over 80 schools recorded Covid-19 cases and so far, the country has lost one pupil. Schools were scheduled to reopen on June 28 for the second term but due to a spike in Covid-19 infections, Government was forced to postpone face-to-face learning.

Children in examination classes were back at school yesterday and the rest of the learners will start on Monday next week.

Speaking during a webinar on building resilience for the continuity of teaching and learning in emergencies yesterday, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela said all efforts are being put to ensure Covid-19 does not spread in learning institutions.

The meeting was held as part of efforts for the Education Ministry and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to have a joint operational plan for the coordinated prevention and management of Covid-19 pandemic at all learning institutions in Zimbabwe.

"We are grateful for the help that we have received so far in terms of ensuring that our schools are safe for learners and in training our teachers in containing Covid-19.

"We will continue surveillance so that we reduce infections at school as we lost a learner so far to Covid-19 from the infections that were recorded in more than 80 schools last time.

"Water provision remains our top priority at the moment so that learners are able to meet the World Health Organisation guidelines on hygiene," said Mrs Thabela.

She said a majority of teachers have undergone training on implementing SOPs to ensure that learners are not exposed to Covid-19. During the training which is still ongoing, the Ministry managed to reach more than 63 percent of its teachers. The Ministry has 139 698 teachers working in 9 625 schools across the country.

"We have also received recommendations to consider training auxiliary staff like food handlers so that our learners are protected. Food handlers are not only a concern for boarding schools as we have a generic school feeding programme in most of our schools. We also have bus crews responsible for transporting learners who should be trained as well so that the process does not expose learners and workers to Covid-19."

The Ministry is also working on conducting a knowledge, attitudes and practices survey to establish the number of teachers who have taken up the Covid-19 vaccine.

Once the results come out, the Ministry will use the evidence to also map the way forward on teachers who would not be vaccinated and also address the barriers.

"We previously met with teacher unions where we gathered that they were willing to get vaccinated hence we believe they have been joining the rest of the members of the public to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

"We are ready for the learners and we are sure that if we implement all these, we will be able to last until December 17 when we close for schools," Mrs Thabela said.

The Ministry is in need of US$10,5 million to fund compliance, monitoring and health surveillance of learning institutions.

"The bulk of that money will go towards the distribution of water, sanitisation, hygiene supplies and essential commodities. According to the needs budget US$4 849 411 will go towards personal protective equipment procured and its distribution."

Last month, Government sent inspectors to schools across the country to assess readiness to reopen and has availed $500 million to schools for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infrastructure such as building of additional classrooms and drilling of boreholes as pupils start returning to class.

The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Edgar Moyo, on Sunday said he conducted a tour across several schools and found them well prepared for reopening. He said exam classes will be attending school every day while the others will alternate days of attendance.

As part of national strategies to decongest classrooms and ensure physical distancing, the Ministry had approached some organisations that have tents to assist schools. He said he was yet to get an update on how many schools have received the tents.

Source - chronicle