Editor's Comment

Prevent COVID among learners

AS SCHOOLS reopen tomorrow, we urge parents and pupils alike to take extra caution to avoid complacency over COVID-19.The pandemic is still very much present in our midst and any slip-up among learners in adherence to health measures would affect the school calendar in an event that cases swell.The country has already undergone closures of schools to avoid the spread of the disease, which is why it cannot afford to go through the same experience this year.This first school term is special in that it is setting the tone for Government’s implementation of the free education policy.What has been dismissed by some opposition political parties as mere political rhetoric has become a reality. Therefore, parents and learners must not get overexcited to the point of dropping their guard against COVID-19.We understand that many parents are up and about either trying to secure places for their children in public schools or getting acceptance letters for their children who were selected to go to Grade Eight. This activity should not compromise health protocols in schools as it has the potential to spread the disease in learning institutions.COVID-19 cases are still high in the country and it is important that parents and the learners observe health guidelines as schools reopen.Although President Hakainde Hichilema has stated that the country cannot afford to lock down, people should not become careless but help Government in reducing the spread of the disease.School authorities should up their game to ensure that pupils report back in a safe environment. They should not relent in maintaining hygiene in the school environment.Learners, especially young ones in primary schools,need closer monitoring to make sure that they adhere to
health regulations like masking up.We also implore parents that as schools reopen, they should try to have their children vaccinated as guided by
the Ministry of Health.COVID-19 vaccination is no longer about adults but children have also been put on the programme to prevent the risk of them contracting the disease especially while in school.We reckon the difficulty in many parents accepting the idea of taking their children for a jab, but this is a sure way of helping school authorities to contain the spread of the disease in schools.The first step to protecting schoolchildren from contracting COVID-19 while in school lies with parents taking precautionary measures before school authorities can play their part.Parents and guardians should not leave everything in the hands of school authorities to provide things like masks and hand sanitisers. Just like we have said before, there is need for concerted efforts among all stakeholders to combat the pandemic.Now that every child has been offered an opportunity to get education through the free education policy,parents, especially those in rural areas, must not choose among their children who to take to school. The girl child, especially in rural areas, has been neglected in preference to a boy child when it comes to education.Parents should not shy away from taking their daughters to school based on the belief that it is a waste of resources taking a girl child to school because she will eventually get married.The future of children, regardless of gender, lies in education as the world becomes more and more advanced technologically.We also urge the children getting back to school tomorrow to study hard and continue excelling in their educational journey.Learners should take advantage of the fact that Government has relieved their parents of the burden of paying school fees.The goodwill from Government must be put to good use because it is using taxpayers’ money to fund this policy by way of giving public schools grants.Once again we would like to emphasise the need for adherence to health guidelines as schools reopen tomorrow.

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