Yaoundé — A group of trade unions in Cameroon's education sector has opposed the government's plan to reopen schools on June 1 for students of examination classes.
The unions said opening schools exposes students and teachers to the Covid-19 coronavirus.
According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the Central African country had recorded 4,890 positive cases, 165 deaths and 1,865 recoveries by Monday.
The country reported its first case of the coronavirus on March 6.
In a petition to the Prime Minister and head of government, Mr Joseph Dion Ngute, some 19 trade unions, including the Cameroon Teachers Trade Union (CATTU) and Teachers' Association of Cameroon (TAC), urged the government to suspend the opening of schools and only evaluate students on work already covered.
Should the government want to still reopen schools, it should provide protective equipment for stakeholders for their safety.
"The distribution of [free] face masks and alcohol-based hand sanitisers is the only means to ensure equal protection of all actors in the face of the coronavirus pandemic," the petition written in French reads.
The petitioners said students unable to acquire face masks might not be accepted on school campuses because of the directive to wear face masks, hence the government should provide them.
They added that the government should then limit the number of students to 24 per class.
Cameroon closed schools and suspended international passenger flights in mid-March as part of the measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Authorities also ordered the compulsory wearing of face masks in public, prohibited gatherings of more than 50 people, and closed bars, restaurants and leisure spots from 6pm. The government also placed restrictions on urban and inter-urban travel and regulated the flow of consumers in markets and shopping centres.
However, last month, the government relaxed the restrictive measures.
Prime Minister Ngute said the restrictions had helped mitigate the spread of the virus, but had also created economic and social hardship.
He said President Paul Biya had also decided to reopen schools, universities, vocational training centres and professional schools from June 1.