Botswana: Maun SS Teachers Boycott Classes

9 February 2021

A majority of teachers at Maun Secondary School have boycotted classes following fear of COVID-19 noncompliance that goes unpunished while cases accelerate nationwide. Botswana Sectors of Educations Trade Union BOSETU Secretary for Secondary Sector Thomas Kajuu, said they as Maun Senior Secondary School teachers have taken a decision to seize working until the work environment is conducive.

Kajuu decried that they are at the mercy of COVID-19 since there is no free flow of information on how many people have the virus, no contact tracing done, no disinfection of the classrooms, no mandatory two hour break. He said that they have suggested that instead of classes going for more than two hours they should be breaks to enable cleaning.

He disclosed in an interview with this publication that they have long requested Ngami DHMT to screen them for Coronavirus to no avail. "Students are testing positive, staff is kept in the dark, what is worrying is that the positive teachers used to teach classes yet no contact tracing has been done", he revealed that about seven teachers have tested positive so far and are told to quarantine in their houses which also puts their housemates at risk as most of them share houses.

For those teachers who tested positive students were not tested besides being in contact with the teachers. Kajuu said that what puzzles them most is that for other schools in the Okavango area serious measures have been implemented, with students being tested fearing a COVID-19 scare Shakawe Senior, Gowa junior school and Okavango Junior Secondary.

BOSETU has even made attempts to call for change in the behavior of the DHMT as it is deemed incompetent. Kajuu described how an earlier attempt was made by the BOSETU Reginal Director Letsweletse Setlhodi which yielded in alleviation of the problem.

The Secondary Sectors Secretary said that until the work environment is mended , a majority of teachers have seized operations as per the Public Service Act Section 27, section 3(e) which states "willful refusal to obey or comply with any safety rules or practices for the prevention or control of accidents or diseases, should not go unpunished. He said if the DHMT does not listen to their cries they call for its full resignation.

In an interview with Ngami District Health Management Team, Acting Director Sandra Maripe she presumed that, escalating cases of COVID-19 devises to shortage of resources. She described how the DHMT is currently understaffed, have shortage of transport, challenged with an outbreak of malaria, incompliance to COVID-19 protocols, inadequate personal protective equipment amongst others.

The Acting Director also said that cases of the virus in Ngami Land schools are not escalating as of those in the Okavango Region. "We have schools in the Okavango region particularly Gowa Junior school which is now non operation because of the escalating cases", she said.

Shakawe Senior School currently has 53 cases of COVID-19, Shakawe Junior Secondary 64, Gowa Junior Secondary School 290,Etsha 6 21 cases .Maun schools do not have a lot of notable statistics as those in the Okavango.

Maripe however said that people who are on home isolation should always call the DHMT for assistance as they have a long lists of patients, she however assured that those that are on home isolation are mostly asymptomatic. Most people in the region are on home quarantine 1347 housed in Ngami end of From January 31 the district registered new cases with 483 in Ngami Land and 567 in Okavango District .Ngami has 192 active cases meanwhile Okavango has 460 cases. Okavango District record a total of zero deaths while Ngami recorded 21 deaths, with one in December and 20 in January alone.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the DHMT to work with teachers to work as contact tracing personnel to help locate affected individuals.Dr Maripe said due to the district not having quarantine centers they managed to be given an isolation facility by Sanitise Maun group. Polymerized Chain Reaction tips used for screening for the virus are currently in shortage leading to the use of rapid antigen for testing. The district also has only two ventilators and transfers patients to Sir Ketumile Masire Teaching Hospital.

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