Children and schools are not the main drivers of the epidemic across countries; and there is no known evidence of the correlation between the rate of disease transmission and whether or not schools remain open or closed. But evidence on the negative impacts of school closures is overwhelming, with long-term implications for children’s learning, safety, health and wellbeing.
We recognize that the pandemic is impacting countries and local communities differently and the global situation is evolving rapidly. Decisions on when to open schools must be made in the best interests of children. Countries must look at the impact on children not able to access learning as well as through a public health, socio-economic and protection lens. We know that the longer children stay out of school, the more exposed they are to dangers. This is especially true for children who are already vulnerable. We are calling for schools to be among the first services to open when the appropriate safety measures are put into place.
In Zimbabwe, the Government is working towards the phased re-openings of schools. Initial re-opening dates have been deferred for now until it is deemed safe for schools to re-open.
There are several steps that need to be undertaken before re-opening:
- Ensure school building, classrooms, teachers’ houses, WASH facilities and grounds are thoroughly disinfected before re-opening
- Collect (both teachers and learners) essential PPE (face mask, hand sanitiser, gloves) from your school before re-opening
- Both learners and teachers should attend the orientation on COVID -19, to be organized by the school before re-opening
- Schools should prepare a list of learners, teachers and other staff members with underlying conditions or special needs
- School should have a list of critical COVID -19 resources in place.
When school re-opens, all prevention measures should be practiced:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water
- Start classes with staggering timetable, keep your distance (1 metre apart) and do not bring large groups together
- Temperature checks are taken with infra-red thermometer of all learners, teachers and visitors who enters the school premise. Those with a temperature over 37 degrees will not be allowed to enter
- Respiratory hygiene practices (coughing and sneezing etiquette)
- If you feel unwell, then stay at home.