Editorial Comment

Ensure safety of children in schools

AS SCHOOLS and institutions of higher learning prepare to reopen, the government should make sure that all the necessary requirements are in place in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

It has become clear that Covid-19 is going to be around for quite some time before a sustainable solution is found and it will be key for the government and citizens to remain alert.

Considering the intensity of the virus, which has killed over 4 000 people in Zimbabwe and millions across the globe, there is a need to take the pandemic seriously.

It is therefore important for the government to give accurate data on the state of preparedness of schools and ensure that it chips in with assistance wherever it is needed.

It is a fact most schools do not have basic personal protective equipment such as hand sanitisers and masks, while the infrastructure is also not adequate to cater for all the school-going children.

Recently, the government said it was adopting a policy aimed at ensuring the safety of children from the virus.

“Learners and staff are encouraged to always maintain a physical distance of at least one metre from each other.

“There should be one learner at each desk, or the desks should be demarcated to allow at least one-metre physical distance.

“The standard classroom should not accommodate more than 35 learners. Physical distancing should also be practiced at assembly, meal times, playgrounds and in boarding hostels.

“The use of bunk beds in hostels is prohibited, over boarding in hostels is strictly prohibited, tea and lunch breaks shall be staggered to conform to the allowed maximum size of gatherings,” a government report revealed.

Most schools do not have the requisite infrastructure as well as enough furniture to cater for the children.

It is therefore imperative for the government to make sure that when the schools finally reopen contingent measures are in place to ensure the virus does not keep on spreading.

Early this year, schools became Covid-19 hotspots, leading to some learning institutions closing, while some students were forced into quarantine.

It is our hope that when the schools reopen, they will not be forced to close two weeks down the line.

School children have lost a lot of learning time and ensuring their safety is key so that the institutions do not close earlier than expected because the government has just failed to put in place preventative measures.