At least sixteen teachers of Ngami junior secondary school in Sehithwa village in the North West District are reportedly confined in mandatory isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
Maun Regional Chairperson of Botswana Sector of Educator’s Trade Union (BOSETU), Letsweletse Setlhodi, confirmed that testing at the twenty-four stream school which has around seventy teachers is ongoing.
“That is what we have been told but we cannot confirm the exact figures because that is the duty of the District Health Management Team (DHMT), but we have been informed that as of June 3, 2021, sixteen teachers were put in isolation,” Setlhodi explained.
Asked about the possible infection and spread of the virus to students, Setlhodi explained that, “The trend is usually that when a student is infected, high chances are the spread would be concentrated among students and when it is found on teachers, it is the teachers who are more likely to get the infection.”
Giving a word of advice on teacher’s day, Setlhodi further encouraged teachers to celebrate responsibly and follow health advices so they can protect themselves from COVID-19 infection.
He advised that it is still very important for one to put on face mask at all times when in public and vulnerable places to minimise exposure, to frequently wash and sanitise hands and keep the social distance.
“We have lost quite a big number of teachers to COVID-19 and it is heart breaking,” added Setlhodi.
BOSETU has confirmed that at least 51 teachers have died from the pandemic since its outbreak in Botswana last year.
BOSETU’s Secretary General, Tobokani Rari stated that their findings indicate that deaths of teachers surpass that of any other frontline workers in the country.
“We have requested that teachers be put as a priority for vaccinations but we were told that when the vaccines arrive, the cabinet will decide. This was when people started to die from COVID-19, but as you have seen, the list of priority was done and teachers did not even make it to number four, they were placed at number six!”
Rari was further saddened by President Mokgweetsi Masisi’s promise of vaccine to teachers.
In his speech marking teacher’s day, President Masisi indicated that teacher’s would soon receive the COVID-19 vaccines that will reduce their chances of infection.
However Rari says the statement did not give any hope to teachers because it maybe just another empty political talk. “It is just another rhetoric. That is not what we want, we want a commitment. They know the numbers so they have to tell us when they will start giving teachers the vaccine and when they would have completed the exercise. That is the commitment we want.”
Botswana government currently has an employ of around 27 000 teachers.