GABARONE, BOTSWANA - Public schools in Botswana re-opened this week, after a two-month break due to COVID-19, but some remained closed as they failed to meet new safety requirements.
This week, Botswana reopened schools following the end of a seven-week lockdown on May 21.
While the government made efforts to upgrade facilities at public schools, some were not ready on the day of reopening on Tuesday.
Botswana Federation of Public Sector Unions secretary general, Tabokani Rari said the reopening should have been delayed.
“The best solution in our view is that we should push the deadline or the timeline for reopening by two weeks, so that we could then push those that are behind to also move towards complying so that when we restart schools," Rari said. "All schools should open at the same time.”
Rari estimates that around 60% of public schools had not met new safety standard.
The government embarked on an exercise to upgrade public schools to improve hygiene.
This included installing washing basins and building additional toilets.
While most learners heeded the call to return to class, some parents, like 38-year-old resident, Goabaone Modise remain skeptical.
“I would not want to take chances. There are concerns that some schools are not ready," Modise said. "I will therefore not risk sending my child to school now. She will only go after I am fully satisfied that the school is compliant.”
President Mokgweetsi Masisi was expected to tour some schools in Gaborone on Friday, to check progress. He said his government will do its best to protect teachers and students from COVID-19 infection.
"The education system is ready to adapt to the new normal. To this end, class sizes have been reduced by half (to observe social distancing). Health and safety measures will be high on the daily agenda ," Masisi said.
Only students sitting for their final year examinations returned to class. The remaining grades are expected back by mid-June.