Over 1, 000 students test positive in three weeks
Since the school term began three weeks ago, more than 1, 000 school kids have tested positive for Covid-19.
According to the latest national statistics, released last Friday, the number of active cases in Botswana stood at 1, 903.
It means a large chunk of that total is made up of school-going children – a worrying development that suggests the country’s schools are fast becoming a breeding ground for Coronavirus.
Voicing her concern to The Voice, Botswana Sectors of Trade Union (BOSETU) SHE officer, Monica Legwale revealed they are uncertain of the exact number of positive results as the likes of Shakawe and Francistown were yet to submit figures for this week.
“From our assessment boarding schools are the hardest hit because when the learners retire for bed there is little supervision for protocols at hostels. You find that there is sufficient supervision during the academic hours but a different story after hours,” noted Legwale in an interview on Wednesday.
She further expressed concern that some schools are used as isolation centres, noting it leaves teachers exposed as they have not been trained on how to handle contacts.
“Teachers and matrons are not fully equipped on how to deal with instances where the whole school has been placed under quarantine. They are not provided with the PPE that the health workers and this poses a risk to them.”
Legwale also warned that a lack of dialogue between schools and the Health Department has lead to unnecessary anxiety amongst the school population.
“In some instances, certain schools are fumigated whilst others are not. Some learning is suspended whilst some it is not. There is a general lack of communication between schools, teachers, students, and the Government on what exactly should be done. We feel that this should be really considered because there is the mental aspect of it all as well as the stigma attached,” urged Legwale.
For his part, the Minister of Basic Education Fidelis Molao admitted he was alarmed at the rising number of positive cases detected in schools.
“Closing schools is always an option to manage the situation but this will only be done after consulting all stakeholders. We have not suspended learning for all school yet but learning in some schools has been suspended to allow for testing and contact tracing. I know of Gantsi Senior. Matsha, Shakawe Matshekge and others who have suspended learning,” the Minister said.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases in schools as of Wednesday:
South East: 31
Kgalagadi North: 131