... on the 6th January 2021, the Botswana Sectors of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) met the Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE) and the COVID – 19 National Task Force together with other stakeholders.
• The meeting was convened at the instance of the MoBE to discuss matters relating to the re – opening of schools for Term 1 of 2021.
• At this meeting, the following were revealed by the COVID – 19 National Task Force, that;
1. COVID – 19 infections are increasing in our society and warned of the new variant that seems to have found its way in our country.
2. Schools are encouraged to strictly adhere to all the health protocols that have always been in place and that there is no any other way of dealing with the prevention of the spread of the virus.
• On the basis of the above, the issue of the readiness of schools to re – accept students after the festive vacation came into focus, and as a consequence parties agreed that there is need to stager the re – opening of schools.
• The staggering of the re – opening of schools is meant to allow less volumes of students to be accepted back to school at a go, to allow the schools to monitor the functionality of the facilities for health protocol adherence.
• The staggering of the school re – opening as well would allow the inspection of schools for compliance prior to re – allowing large volumes of students. We, as a consequence, appeal to our SHE representatives and Shop Stewards to participate in the risk assessment and inspection process.
• Parties further agreed that learning institutions that are not compliant with the COVID – 19 preventative protocols should NOT re – open to receive students and teachers until they are fully compliant.
• In view of the foregoing, the union appeals to its members to observe the following;
1. That a new COVID – 19 variant that is reported to be spreading more faster is said to have been found in Botswana and as such they should exercise outmost caution as the schools re – open.
2. Members should strictly and religiously adhere to health protocols as prescribed by the health authorities and should resist entering school environments where such protocols are compromised. These protocols include the following;
*Frequent washing of hands and / sanitizing
*Frequent sanitizing of the school furniture between / during lessons
*Temperature screening when entering school campus
*Adherence to Social Distancing in learning institutions and in Classrooms (a maximum of 30 students in a class with 1 meter at least distance apart)
*Strict adherence to working from homes to reduce congestion at the workplace
• Note further that at this meeting, the union raised the following matters as pains that directly affects teachers during this era of COVID – 19 that needed to be expeditiously resolved;
1. That the shifting process in some schools has resulted in teachers teaching across the shifts, and as such, experiencing very high loads, some as high as 64 periods in a week that leads to fatigue.
2. In some cases, in order to prevent teaching across shifts, some schools have put more than 30 students in class, and even compromising the standard distance of 1 meter between the learners.
3. There are some Primary Schools that still have teachers teaching across the shifts in spite of the fact that there is a clear agreement that primary school teachers should not teach across shifts.
4. The sharing of accommodation by educators compromises the principle of decongestion and social distancing in staff houses.
• In conclusion BOSETU calls upon all its members to stick to the maximum periods / lessons as advised or stated in the current establishment register and avoid teaching.”