Namibia: Smooth Return to Schools

Despite some challenges, it was relatively a smooth return to the classroom for lower primary pupils after months of closure intended to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

When New Era visited some primary schools in Windhoek yesterday, many teachers were hard at work with teaching, while others continued to ensure the cleanliness of the premises.

Otjomuise Primary School's head of department for upper primary, Vilho Shikwete, said they resumed without any hiccups and most learners have since returned for face-to-face schooling.

"The little ones [grade 0-3] are easy to control. The bigger ones [grade 7] are the ones who sometimes want to undermine teachers, thinking it is their peers. We are ready indeed. About 90% of learners returned. They came with their own masks, but the school also provided each learner with a mask upon their return," Shikwete said.

He said all classrooms have been disinfected, while the constituency councillor's office has provided them with over 80 tippy taps.

Every classroom also has a hand sanitiser.

All learners upon entering school had their temperature checked.

The head of department said he was thankful that no child was turned back due to high temperature.

Social distancing has been observed as per health protocols in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

Each class had less than 20 learners.

Elim Primary School in Khomasdal also did not experience any hiccups upon the resumption of contact classes.

The school's head of department for junior primary, Elvira Duiker, said for all grades (0-3) learners were divided into two slots.

Group one attends school on Mondays and Wednesdays, while group two attend on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Teachers have dedicated Fridays for learners in need of support learning.

A pre-primary teacher, Sophia Cloete, said she did not experience any problem with the learners.

"We taught them about health protocols. They are well behaved. At 10h00, they ate their food in the classroom and thereafter got sanitised. They then go outside to stretch under the strict supervision of teachers. The teachers also accompany them to the bathroom," Cloete stated.

For all grades, learners also do not exceed more than 20 per class.

The school is also equipped with hand sanitisers and thermo guns provided by the government.

Meanwhile, the Theo Katjimune Primary School in the heart of Katutura did not resume face-to-face schooling.

The school principal, Nathalie Uaendere, said they do not meet health standards hence the decision not to open yesterday.

"We have not yet resumed. We have given a notification to our parents through the radio. We have special permission not to reopen because we are not ready in terms of health protocols," she said.

She explained that it is an old school and most of its infrastructure need to be renovated.

However, she added, the government has appointed a contractor to renovate the facilities, especially the ablution.

According to her, once such renovations are completed, then the school management will inform the parents and guardians as to when the school will resume.

She said the government have provided hand sanitisers, thermo guns and cleaning materials to the school. Moreover, People's Primary School in Katutura has also resumed face-to-face without any challenges.

The school principal, Patrick Xoagub, said 60% of learners have returned and is hopeful that parents would send their children to school this week. "So far, everything went smoothly due to the less number of learners that arrived. We had ample time to plan and coordinate with regards to our readiness. Classes have been disinfected and teachers are mentally ready. Social distancing has been implemented in each class. We do not have more than 20 learners per class," Xoagub indicated. During break time, he said learners have been divided into different slots to avoid overcrowding.

- anakale@nepc.com.na

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