By Judge Jarachara
Covid-19 tests for all the 800 pupils enrolled at Mzilikazi Primary School started yesterday after eight teachers tested positive two weeks ago.
Health officials have also started initiative contact tracing following the Covid-19 cases recorded at the school.
A number of schools have recorded Covid-19 cases with Embakwe High School in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South having recorded 91 cases as of Saturday.
At Sacred Heart primary and secondary Schools in Esigodini, 51 Covid-19 cases were recorded recently.
A fortnight ago, Vice-President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Constantino Chiwenga implored Zimbabweans to remain vigilant and protect themselves from new Covid-19 infections, which are manifesting in new variants.
Yesterday, a Chronicle news crew visited Mzilikazi Primary School and observed queues of learners socially distanced being tested.
A team from the Bulawayo City Council health department was conducting the tests.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s director of communications Mr Taungana Ndoro said the tests were being done after eight teachers from the same school tested Covid-19 positive.
“The tests are being conducted by the Ministry of Health and Child Care as a fortnight ago, eight teachers from the school tested positive for Covid-19. So, this is what triggered the testing. I am sure as the ministry they are going to follow up to ensure that these are the only affected,” said Mr Ndoro.
Parents who spoke Chronicle welcomed the decision to test their children saying they had been living in fear that they may have contracted the virus.
A parent, Mrs Nomsa Ncube (34), said since she heard of the teachers’ cases at her child’s school, it has been her prayer that her entire family be tested for the virus.
“I have been living in fear for the past weeks since I heard of the teachers’ cases but today, I am happy,” she said.
Another parent, Mr Mbulelo Nyoni commended Government and school authorities for quickly reacting to the outbreak.
“If we are to be fair, this is a commendable job. We will all be at peace knowing the position and the status of our children,” he said.
Meanwhile, as a way of preventing the spread of Covid-19 in schools, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has encouraged all stakeholders to join hands in the fight against the pandemic.
The ministry said schools have become a necessary barometer for detection and management of Covid-19 nationwide and as guided by Standard Operating Procedures. Every school is linked to a local health facility through which any learner or member of staff who shows any possible symptoms is immediately referred to the Ministry of Health and Child Care’s Rapid Response Team.
“The ministry hereby, requests the enhanced contribution of responsible authorities, teachers, learners, School Development Committees, parents/guardians, members of communities around schools and all stakeholders towards enhanced prevention of the spread of Covid-19.
As the 2021 winter season is approaching, the success of the preventive measures against the spread of Covid-19 among learners depends heavily on the leadership of each school head as well as the co-operation among teachers, learners, their parents/ guardians and communities at large,” reads the statement.
The ministry which is working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Health and Child Care has put in place a disease surveillance mechanism that requires daily screening of all learners and staff during the school term.
School heads have been tasked to guard against complacency and to ensure full compliance with health protocols as directed through the Standard Operating Procedures.
“All schools should strongly reinforce the following health-promoting behaviours among learners and staff; consistent daily temperature checks, ensuring that the thermometers used for screening learners are in good working order at all times, with replacement batteries in stock, consistent and proper wearing of clean masks, consistent physical and social distancing, regular and correct handwashing,” reads the statement.
It also said there must be no overcrowding at entry points, in classrooms, during break-time, in dining halls, boarding hostels and common rooms, including libraries.
There should also be no hugging, hand-holding or touching and schools must ensure correct mouth, nose and eye hygiene, good toilet hygiene and safe handling of all body fluids.
It said schools should be clean and there must be regular disinfection of commonly touched surfaces and proper waste disposal.
“No sharing of items without proper sanitising of hand-held objects,” it added. The Chronicle