Teachers’ unions have implored the Government to temporarily close non-examination classes in order to decongest schools and avert a looming health catastrophe.

Several privately-run boarding schools have responded to a surge in coronavirus infections in the past few days by sending learners home.

President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ) Obert Masaraure said schools are now a serious national health threat and should be closed forthwith. He said:

We have been monitoring adherence to standard operating procedures (SOPs) in schools and adherence is as low as 25%.

The union calls upon the government to temporarily close schools for non-examination classes while we enhance the capacity of our schools to adhere to SOPs.

Our schools are a serious national health threat and if we don’t act the nation will soon plunge into a health crisis.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou told NewsDay that SOPs are non-existent in most schools in Zimbabwe.

Zhou slammed what he called command and control tactics by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education which endanger the health and safety of pupils and teachers in schools. He said:

If nothing is done as a matter of urgency, there is a danger that schools may be virtually abandoned by teachers, or totally converted into quarantine centres rather than function as institutions of learning and teaching.

Education Ministry Director Of Communications and Advocacy Taungana Ndoro insisted they would stick to the 17 December closing date.