Elita Chikwati and Mary Muradzikwa
Government has allowed Glen View 5 Primary School to resume classes after its senior officials and Harare City Council were satisfied with the interventions taken to fight a cholera outbreak that has claimed 33 lives so far. The school, which was temporarily closed two weeks ago following the outbreak, was declared safe yesterday but authorities will continue to monitor the situation.
Glen View and Budiriro were identified as the epicentre of the cholera outbreak which hit Harare from September 6 this year.
Glen View 5 Primary school was closed on September 11 after it was discovered that a borehole which was its only source of water was contaminated.
Examination classes, that is grades five to seven, had however, not been affected by the temporary closure.
Speaking after inspecting the premises and assessing measures undertaken by the school to curb the spread of cholera, Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Dr Slyvia Utete-Masango said the Ministry was satisfied with the intervention measures taken at the school.
“We are happy and satisfied with the measures that have been taken and pupils can come for lessons starting Monday. The exam classes from grade five to seven had been attending lessons but under stringent measures.
“It was mandatory for each child to bring treated water for drinking and teachers were checking to see if the children had enough safe water for drinking. Pupils were also not allowed to share the food they brought from home. Hand sanitisers were also made available to pupils so they could wash their hands,” said Dr Utete-Masango.
“The measures that have been put in place to mitigate cholera outbreak will continue and children are being encouraged to always wash their hands,” she said.
She said borehole water was no longer used for drinking at the school but for toilets while waiting for the results from the test on the water quality.
Dr Utete-Masango said Glen View 5 Primary School was the only school that was temporarily closed due to the cholera outbreak but no deaths were recorded from the school.
Only two parents of pupils attending Glen View 5 Primary School succumbed to cholera. She said the City of Harare and the Ministry of Health and Child Care had made some recommendations to the school, and after an inspection, they were satisfied that the school could reopen.
“These include making sure toilets were functional. The school used to rely on borehole water but now they have tanks and clean water is being brought in twice a week.
“So far one 5 000-litre tank has been installed with taps and is providing clean water twice a week to the school. The school is expected to receive two more tanks so that the local community can also access safe water,” she said.
City of Harare Environmental Health Officer, Mr Simon Mataba said they were also satisfied with the measures taken at the school to curb the cholera outbreak. He said now the school had enough clean water for the pupils.
“We will continue monitoring the activities in the school. We feel adequate measures have been taken and the school can resume lessons on Monday,” he said.
Harare provincial Education Director, Mr Christopher Kateera said there were 29 schools in the Glen View-Mufakose District.
“On September 10 it was noted that two learners had been affected and later when a check was made, there was a notable number of absentees in the classrooms on the first day. The number increased to 227 on the second day and this alarmed the education district and authorities were alerted,” he said.
He said a number of interventions were then taken by the school with the help of well-wishers to ensure the school was safe again.
“The school has an enrolment of 2 100 pupils and 38 females teachers and six male teachers. It was not possible for the school to continue running without clean water and also because of the high enrolment. Now the pupils have access to clean water,” he said.
Mr Kateera said the school also received a number of items that included water tanks, aqua tablets, litter bins, detergents and protective clothing from well-wishers that include High Life, World Vision and Unicef.