MORE COVID-19 SAFEGUARDS ARE TAKEN

Author: HILDA MHAGAMA
AfricaPress-Tanzania: WITH one day to go before primary and secondary schools reopen, the government has reviewed Covid-19 guidelines by providing additional ones.

The second edition of the guidelines places emphasis on the provision of supplementary programmes for day care centres, crèches, elementary and primary schools, religious schools to continue observing precautionary measures, guided by the country’s health authorities.

The six-page guidelines issued yesterday by the Ministry of Health, Community Devel opment, Gender, Elderly and Children, among other things, requires school managements to ensure availability of all essential equipment and facilities for curbing the spread of the respiratory disease.

Every school management must ensure that students, teachers and non-teaching staff wear cloth masks when they are at school, es pecially when they are in classrooms, assembly area or during group discussions.

The guideline also directs school premises to be decontaminated at least 72 hours before students report back, and calls for regular inspections by health personnel in regions and district councils to ensure that all precautionary measures are observed.

“Children aged below eight years and those with respiratory illnesses such as asthma, heart ailment, and sickle cell are advised not to wear a mask,” the guidelines read in part.

Those with such challenges, including students and teachers, once they get sick and are short of breath, should avoid gatherings, pull off their masks to increase air quality and seek the help of health professionals.

According to the Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Ms Ummy Mwalimu, the guideline aims at creating an enabling environment for the prevention of the spread of the deadly viruses in learning institutions.

“To realise this, the guideline has taken into account four main areas – preparing general schools/crèche premises, health screening, transport services and learning environment,” she said.

The minister said the guideline directs that the opening day be devoted to educating students and staff on Covid-19, its symptoms and precautionary measures as well as encouraging them to wear cloth facemasks.

“School managements are required to ensure that handwashing facilities are available at all entry points, dormitories, libraries, dining halls, toilets and other important areas, for pre-schoolers, nursery and crèche care facilities,” Ms Mwalimu said.

She said her ministry insists on the use of soap and running water for handwashing and the facilities should consider students with special needs, adding that hand sanitizers should be used as an option and should meet the required standards such as the composition of more than 70 per cent of ethanol.

The minister further clarified that schools with health care facilities should provide training to their health staff on how to attend students, teachers and non-teaching staff suspected to have contracted Covid-19, including psychological counselling.

The guideline, however, requires boarding schools to make sure that enough space is left between beds, and students should avoid sharing towels, bedsheets and toiletries.

For those who use school buses, the owners have been directed to ensure that they put hand sanitizers there and all passengers and other staff wear face masks and use alcohol-based hand rub before boarding them.

Tanzania is the first East African nation to reopen its schools after three months of closure due to the novel coronavirus. All schools will reopen on June 29.

On June 1, universities in the country reopened with hygiene rules put in place by the health ministry.

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