ZCTU calls for caution as reopening of schools gathers momentum

By Edward Mukaro
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for a calculated and informed approach in as far as the reopening of schools is concerned, amid fears of exposing students and frontline personnel to the Covid-19 scourge.
There has been a lot of talk surrounding government’s intentions to strategically reopen education institutions namely, universities, primary and high schools, amid Phase 2 of the national lockdown, called by Government to curb the spread of Covid-19.
According to information obtained by The BusinessConnect from the ministry of information and broadcasting services, the ministry of education is currently making roadshows in communities informing citizens of government’s plans, while also getting the people’s view on the intended plans to reopen schools.
Speaking to The BusinessConnect in an interview, ZCTU secretary general Japhet Mutasa opined that it will be ill-timed for government to reopen classroom doors for teachers and pupils, as social distancing among school children cannot be guaranteed and the fact that healthwise, children are not supposed to wear face masks for longer periods.
“Experts have already advised that kids should stay at home because they should not be subjected to masks for long periods. Opening schools at the moment when kids are not guaranteed social distancing and no clear protocols put in place would be disastrous.
“Some of the schools are being used as quarantine centers at the moment and have not been disinfected. Therefore, we do believe schools should not open at the moment until government put safety measures in place and have resources to remunerate risk allowances for all frontline personnel.
Commenting on the issue of whether government will be able to pay risk allowance to frontline workers in the education sector, in this case, teachers, Mutasa said its most likely government will not be offering any risk allowance, since its failing to adequately remunerate health workers, some of whom do not even have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Government is failing to pay a living wage to its workers and Covid-19 allowances for all the teachers would be asking for the impossible.
“Frontline workers in the health sector are inadequately remunerated at the moment and work without adequate PPE,” he added.

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