OPUWO – The Putuavanga Secondary School in Opuwo last week reopened classes for grade 11 and 12 learners in a bid to save the academic year despite limited resources, including lack of proper sanitation. The school lacks proper ablution facilities, which the acting principal Richard Tjazapi described as an old problem. Tjazapi said all Covid-19 precautionary measures are in place and teachers and learners are complying.
The school resumed classes despite the challenge of non-flushing toilets, which has been an issue even before the Covid-19 outbreak. A team from the ministry of education and the works department have visited the school to familiarise themselves with the situation to address the sanitation issue at the school.
“We have two blocks of toilets. The one block has no water at all. The other block has water but it has flushing problems. The institutional workers and learners have to use the bucket to flush the toilets. This is a problem at the school and hostel,” Tjazapi said.
The acting principal also raised concern that the school would struggle to enforce social distancing when all grades resume classes due to overcrowding. The school has 16 classrooms at the moment, which have been sub-divided to allow 15 learners per class group to conform to social distancing norms.
“What we thought as a school is if the grade 9 should report for face-to-face classes, the social distancing must still be in place. We have a school hall where we might take some of these learners and put classes there so that teachers can conduct lessons from there,” he said.
The hostel superintended, Paulus Natanael, said learners thus far are observing the precautionary measures as eight are occupied in one room, compared to the normal capacity of 15.
“With social distancing, we can still add at least two learners to make them ten per room, which is still fine with regards to the social distancing protocol in place,” he said. The learners at the school said they were oriented upon the school’s resumption, and their temperature is checked twice a day. Learners were also provided with two face masks and a bottle of hand sanitiser.
*Cecilia Xavier works for the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology in Opuwo.