NATIONAL Action for Quality Education in Zambia NAQEZ executive director Aaron Chansa says COVID-19 preventive measures in schools are not serious because the government has taken little effort in distributing anti-COVID items.

And Chansa has reiterated the stance to have schools closed a week before the general elections.

In an interview, Tuesday, Chansa said the survey conducted by NAQEZ revealed that most schools had run out of COVID preventive materials and that the government took time especially this term to provide the necessary items.

“We have seen especially this term that the government has not taken time or effort to distribute the items that are needed to prevent this virus. So the measures have not been serious and it is not good for the fight against the COVID-19. We need efforts from all those concerned, especially the government. Ministry of General Education should also ensure it continues sending money to schools that cannot afford to buy sanitizers because most of them have run out of these items so we need money into schools from the ministry so that we can allow these schools to prevent by implementing these measures than closing schools because it’s just too early to do that,” he said

“Our survey shows that we no longer have strict adherence to COVID preventive measures that were shared with schools. We have not seen a lot of learners masking up, a lot of schools have run out of sanitizers and there is no more physical distance in schools. So we reiterate our call to strict adherence to these COVID preventive measures or else the current behavior, if continued might attract closure of schools from the authority which might have fundamental damages to the school calendar, a route we don’t want to take.”

He however said it was too early to close schools as it was still possible to cope with the pandemic.

“We have cases in some schools, we have also seen at national level a lot of cases being reported and there are some calls that schools must be closed. Our position is that it’s too early to make that call (closing schools), we can have schools just taking up the preventive measures. We have seen that a lot of schools, learners and pupils have dropped the guard against the preventive measures of COVID-19. We can prevent the spread and contraction of the virus by making sure that pupils don’t drop the guard but always adhere to the preventive measures,” said Chansa.

“There is also a need for more seriousness in terms of implementation at school level, when you go into most of these schools, the distance is not there mostly because schools do not have enough desks. We call for the Ministry to buy desks so that we can allow physical distancing in affected schools. So yes there is no seriousness in most schools but there is always room for improvement and we would want to see that responsibility.”

He further urged parents to play a key role in educating their children about the virus and advised them to take keen interest in visiting schools where their children learnt to see how preventive the school was against the pandemic.

“The call to them is to make sure their children always mask up, parents should also get involved to educate their children on the preventive measures once they are in public places. They also visit the schools where their children learn and see how preventive the school is against COVID-19 and if schools are found wanting parents are at liberty to set the alarm so that together we can fight this pandemic in schools,” he said.

Meanwhile Chansa said closing schools on the 13th of August was not ideal for both teachers and pupils hence the need for them to close a week before voting.

“We want to reaffirm our position that schools must be able to close one week before the election day which is on 5th August 2021 despite the ministry saying that schools will close on the 13th of August 2021. We still stand on this because we believe it will allow teachers to participate in elections. So we suggest schools should not close now (amidst covid 3rd wave) but adhere to the preventive measures. We are yet to notify the ministry on the need to close schools a week before elections but we have been talking about it in the media and a lot of stakeholders have supported our position and just hope the ministry will come through. Closing schools after voting will not be ideal not only for teachers but learners as well,” said Chansa.