Tanzania: Safety Guidelines Issued...as Schools, Colleges Set to Reopen

THREE days before the reopening of schools and colleges, the government has issued Covid-19 prevention guidelines, to ensure smooth learning amid the ongoing battle against the pandemic.

The guideline, which was issued on Thursday by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, among other things requires school and college managements to ensure availability of all essential equipment and facilities for curbing the spread of the respiratory disease.

The guideline also needs school and college premises to be decontaminated at least 72 hours before students report back, and calls for regular inspections by health personnel in regions and district councils to ensure that all precautionary measures are observed.

It says that, students suspected to have Covid-19 symptoms should undergo screening before returning to the learning institutions and those who will test positive should remain at home until their health condition improves, adding that students who would develop the disease symptoms while at school should be taken to nearby health facilities for further investigations.

According to the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, the guideline aims at creating an enabling environment for the prevention of the spread of the deadly viruses in learning institutions.

"To realise this, the guideline has taken into account four main areas, which include preparing general schools/colleges' premises, health screening, transport services and learning environment," she said.

The minister said according to the guideline, opening day should be devoted to educating students and staff on Covid-19, its symptoms and precaution measures as well as encouraging them to wear cloth facemasks.

"School/college management are required to ensure that hand washing facilities are available in offices, entry points, dormitories, libraries dining halls, toilets being other important areas," Ms Mwalimu said.

She said her ministry insists on the use of soap and running water for hand washing and the facilities should consider students with special needs, adding that hand sanitizers should be used as an option and should meet the required standards such as composition of more than 70 per cent of ethanol.

"The use of hand sanitizer is an option because the government has put more emphasis on use of water and soap to wash hands," Ms Mwalimu said.

The minister further explained that school or colleges with health facilities should provide training to their health staff on how to attend students, teachers or staff suspected to have contracted Covid-19, including psychological counselling .

The guideline, however, requires boarding schools and colleges with hostels to make sure that enough space is left between beds, and students should avoid sharing towels, bed sheets and toiletries.

For those who use school buses, the owners have been directed to ensure that they put hand sanitisers there and all passengers and other staff wear face masks and use alcohol based hand rub before boarding the buses.

Meanwhile, the University of Dar es Salaam has assured students and the public at large that Magufuli Hostels were safe and in good order to accommodate students from June 1, this year.

Speaking before the Chancellor of the University of Dar es Salaam, former President Jakaya Kikwete at the hostels' premises, Neem Kweba, a health expert, said the hostels that were used as a quarantine centre for travellers from the corona virus hit countries were already prepared to accommodate students.

Ms Kweba said on behalf of the Regional Medical Officer that all 844 travellers who were accommodated in the buildings for over 20 days tested negative against Covid-19.

She said on April 25, a team of health experts started thorough cleaning; disinfecting and sterilising the rooms, beds and mattresses as well as the surrounding environment to ensure the hostels were safe..

On his part, Dr Kikwete commended the regional medical experts for taking initiatives to ensure good health for students as agreed before they took over the hostels to accommodate the coronavirus suspects.

He said that the government had assured the university that all appropriate measures required to keep the hostels clean and free from the coronavirus have been taken into consideration.

The University Vice Chancellor Prof William Anangisye said learning will start immediately on Monday as all the preparations required have been completed.

"We have finalised all preparations for reopening the university, lectures will start immediately on Monday, we will not wait further because we need to catch up with time," he said.

President John Magufuli ordered the reopening of all colleges and secondary schools for form six students who are scheduled to sit the final National Examinations from June 29, this year.

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