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Unions, Gov’t Agree To Keep Schools Open

TSAONE BASIMANEBOTLHE
Unions, Gov’t Agree To Keep Schools Open
A tripartite deal has been reached between two education unions and government to temporarily monitor schools closely before considering an option to close.

Local schools have been recording a surge in cases of the deadly coronavirus (COVID19).

As a result, The Presidential Task Team, Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and officials of the Ministry of Basic Education met last Tuesday.

“However, there was a departure between the educators’ trade unions and the Ministry of Basic Education on the issue of the immediate temporary closure of schools. While educators’ trade unions were of the view that schools should be temporarily closed, the Ministry of Basic Education was of the view that there is a need to further observe the situation while the schools remain open,” a letter signed by both BTU and BOSETU respective secretary-generals, Tobokani Rari and Agang Gabana, stated.

“We appeal to all our shop stewards on the ground to report to the union structures any action that might subject members to hazardous conditions.

“In conclusion, we encourage all members to resist entering work environments where there are glaring instances of non-compliance to COVID-19 protocols, in an institution, that could jeopardise their health.”

It added it would be against the preventative procedures and protocols to require people who have been declared close contact and are awaiting results to come into the school environment, as they should be in quarantine.

The teachers were advised that those waiting for their COVID-19 test results and were close contacts should remain at

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home until results are released.

“That it would not be to require people to enter areas where positive cases have been found while those areas have not been fumigated. In cases where a school or part of the school is turned into quarantine/isolation centres, teachers would not be used to take care of the quarantined/isolated students,” it continued. The parties also agreed that in light of the vulnerable conditions under which educators work, teachers do qualify to be classified as frontline workers and to be provided with personal protective equipment by the employer, which in this case would be the surgical masks.

Teacher unions have raised concerns that the number of positive cases within the schools had drastically surged at an alarming and scary rate across all COVID-19 zones. 

They were also worried that the Department of Public Health through the District Health Management Team have dropped the guard and compromising standards and known coronavirus protocols when it comes to schools.

Also, the unions complained of incidents where close contacts awaiting results would be required to go to schools and in those instances where fumigations would not be done, they are still required to come to the affected areas where there are positive cases.

Also, some schools seem to have been turned into quarantine and isolation centres, and teachers are used to care for the students that are isolated/quarantined.



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