REPORTS that some pupils reported without face masks on opening day because their school authorities did not prepare adequately, make sad reading.
It is shocking that despite being privy to information pertaining to the government’s directive to prepare for reopening schools for examination classes and having ample time to prepare, some schools had still not done so.
How possible is this especially that President Edgar Lungugave the directive a month ago, which was at least reasonable time to prepare?
School managements, therefore, had a full month in which to prepare but some never did and only started preparing on opening day itself. As a result, children had no face masks.
Such levels of unpreparedness smack of lack of commitment on the part of management and teachers of such schools.
We have in mind Mukalashi primary and secondary schools where during an inspection on Monday, the Central Province multi-sectoral team on Covid-19, team found pupils without face masks moving desks as part of the preparations to meet the health guidelines.
Central Province Education Officer (PEO) Jennifer Chishimba Banda who was part of the multi-sectoral team said she was disappointed with the conduct of the school management for not showing commitment to their work.
In her view, the teachers and head teachers and had displayed a lack of passion for the pupils whom they should be preparing for exams.
While minor glitches were anticipated as schools reopened, we can’t fathom why some schools would start making the preparations on opening day itself and worse still, end up not having face masks for their pupils.
Even more baffling is the fact that teachers at the schools in question had face masks while their pupils had none! Where is the logic in all this?
As Ms Banda rightly observes, such levels of unpreparedness can only mean that the teachers and their school heads lacked commitment towards their work and had no passion for the learners.
There is no excuse for such conduct by the teachers at the two schools especially that government, through the Ministry of General Education and other multi-sectoral partners, had provided enough masks and for pupils in all schools.
Not only that, there has been overwhelming moral and material support from various stakeholders towards helping schools in the country prepare for reopening.
Given the seriousness of the preparations that had been undertaken since the presidential directive to reopen schools, we are have reasons to believe that most schools had received the face masks and other protective equipment.
So how come the two schools were left out? Given the consistent assurance to parents by senior education officials that all schools had been catered for in terms of face masks.
Our guess is that authorities at the two schools where not proactive in terms of preparing for reopening because if they really were, they should have contacted the provincial education office to demand masks and other support for them to meet the Covid-19 guidelines under the new normal.
But even before the government could provide their schools with face masks, the schools should have engaged the parents through the Parents Teacher Association to buy the masks for the children.
Why did they have to sit on their laurels until the last day when they had other options? This is unacceptable.
Heads should certainly roll over this matter especially that the authorities put the pupils at risk of contracting the virus when Government had assured parents of their children’s safety.
Managements at both schools should be taken to task to explain why they chose to play down such a serious national matter bordering on the lives of school-going children.
We, therefore, urge the Ministry of General Education to ensure all hiccups in schools are quickly ironed out before the end of this week so that all pupils can move at the same pace in terms of learning.