The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Takavafira Zhou, says Zimbabwe’s educators feel vindicated after resisting government’s plan to have them back into the classrooms to resume in-person learning without personal protective equipment (PPE) amid a surge in new Covid-19 cases and deaths.
The virus appears to have entered its deadliest phase yet with the numbers of reported cases of infections and death continues to rise unabated.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care this week reported that more than 27 000 people have tested Covid-19 positive since March last year and more than 700 deaths have been reported.
This week on Tuesday, Zimbabwe recorded its highest death toll from Covid-19 pandemic with 60 people succumbing from the virus.
“We know that many parents were blaming us when we embarked on a job strike. But I am sure they are now supporting us considering what has happened since the start of the year,” Zhou said.
He said government was yet to provide PPEs to teachers who are currently invigilating students writing advanced and ordinary examinations.
“We have reports of many of our members getting infected by Covid-19 as they were forced to attend classes,” Zhou said.
If government guaranteed the safety of teachers, Zhou said, PTUZ members were prepared to continue going to work as there were law abiding citizens. He added that government should meet their conditions of providing them with PPEs.
“It is not a secret that teachers are being infected by Covid-19 and are asking for government to help them.
If there is no change you do not expect to see the teachers in schools,” Zhou said.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema said the government was doing its level best to protect the teachers and will be providing them PPE.
“We have distributed some PPE in schools but the demand for them is too high as the pandemic continues to increase but we shall try our level best to save the teachers,” Mathema said.
Zimbabwe is under lockdown with only essential services operating as part of measures to stem the rise of new cases.
A 6pm to 6am curfew is in place while churches and bars were early this month ordered to suspend operations for 30 days.