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Panic as schools open despite rise in Covid cases


MASERU – A teachers’ union says the government’s decision to reopen schools when Covid-19 cases are rising is reckless.
Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) spokesman Tiisetso Rasheleng said the government is putting the lives of teachers, students and parents at risk.
The government however says schools were ready to reopen and all precautionary measures were followed.
Rasheleng said the government did not supply schools with masks and sanitisers.
He is also worried that students and teachers are being forced back to school before being vaccinated.
Rasheleng said the union’s investigation revealed that it is still unsafe to reopen schools.

“We just want to ensure the safety of both the teachers and students at school,” said Rasheleng, noting that schools were supposed to be closed at the end of June but were shut down earlier due to a spike in Covid-19 infections in Leribe schools.
“That was when more than 40 students and teachers were found positive with Covid-19,” Rasheleng said.

He said apart from their investigation Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro recently said the infection rate is still alarming.
He said some parents cannot afford to buy masks or sanitisers for their children.
He added that most students were reporting for school without masks and would inform teachers that their parents cannot afford to buy them.

Rasheleng said on Monday he received a report about a school where teachers had to send students home after one of them had come to school despite the fact that her parents had just succumbed to Covid-19. He declined to name the school.
However, Basic Education Principal Secretary, Dr Lira Khama, dismissed claims that schools do not have Personal Protective Equipment.
“It was delivered to schools. We even have workshops for all school representatives on issues surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic to liaise with the councillors and chiefs,” Dr Khama said,

He also said the vaccine arrived only last week and the rollout plan is underway.
“Yesterday we had a meeting where we discussed how they (teachers) will be vaccinated. All the teachers will be vaccinated.”
The Boleng ba Thuto Parents Association, which claims to represent parents, said it is also worried that schools are not safe.
The association wrote to the Minister of Education, ’Mamookho Phiri, asking her to temporarily halt the reopening of school until Covid-19 cases start coming down.

It also said it wants teachers to be vaccinated first.
“Up until now there is nothing intact to allay our fears as parents on how the country can avoid infections of this virus that could be spread by and among students in the classes,” the association said in a statement.
“What makes us afraid is the clear evidence that this third wave seems to be more dangerous than its predecessors and there is a need to ensure that children and teachers are safe as they reopen schools.”
SIX workers at Maseru Private Academy have reportedly tested positive for Covid-19.

The management said tests were done after reports that some staff members were unwell. Over the weekend results showed that three were positive.
They sanitised the whole school.
The management said on Monday they received information that three more employees had Covid-19 symptoms.
“We received the results late yesterday (positive),’’ they said.

The school has closed until Monday next week for what the management calls deep cleaning.
The management said they are also testing all their staff today.
“The reason for not disclosing the information even to the media earlier was to avoid creating panic before we could issue official letters to the parents.”
“We believe that calmness is the key in dealing with issues like this,’’ they said.
“It’s our responsibility to ensure that the students and the staff are safe.’

Nkheli Liphoto

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