Nyamasheke teacher protests COVID-19 preventive measures, resigns

On 18 December 2020 at 10:00

Nshimiye Schadrack, an English teacher at Binogo Primary School located in Macuba sector of Nyamasheke district , Western Province has submitted a resignation letter explaining that his beliefs do not allow him to continue his duties during these times requiring the adherence to Covid-19 preventive measures.

The letter dated 16th December 2020 was written to the mayor of Nyamasheke district.

In his letter that circulated on social media, Nshimiye said that he could not continue his work due to Covid-19 preventive measures implemented at his school noting ‘they are against the commandments of God and his Word that I respect.’

Nshimiye who was a teacher in Primary 5 and 6 has confirmed to IGIHE that he wrote the letter himself.

“I am the one who wrote the resignation letter. That is the way it is [Preventing covid-19] is against my faith and the Bible,” he said.

Nshimiye said he resigned because his faith beliefs do not allow him to wear a face mask and being forced to wash hands.

“I often wash hands but willingly without someone else’s pressure. I don’t belong to any faith based organization. I respect Biblical verses,” he explained.

The Director of Education in Nyamasheke district, Alphonse Sinabajije said that he asked the teacher to report himself to the district to discuss the matter face to face but the latter was not able to reach district offices because he can’t wear a face mask.

“We had summoned him to report himself to the district yesterday but couldn’t find a way because he doesn’t wear a face mask. He cannot be allowed to enter a bus without wearing a face mask. I finally talked to him over the head teacher’s phone. He told me that his biblical faith doesn’t allow him to do so,” he explained.

“I told him that I am also a Christian and referred him to some verses in the bible. He declined to accept my advises saying these measure preventives being implemented are Satanic symbols. He told me, he would rather resign than adhering. I latter saw the letter circulating on social media,” added Sinabajije.

He revealed that seven students in Mahembe and Karambi sectors have also abandoned school over refusal to wear face masks.

“There are children who abandoned school because they don’t want to wear face masks in the sector. We have the responsibility to engage in discussions with pupils at the school where he taught and parents to change mindsets and let them know that adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures is not against the word of God. I have seen seven children at Nyarusiza school in Mahembe along with others in Karambi with similar problem,” said Sinabajije.

Rwanda confirmed the first COVID-19 patient on 14th March 2020. As of today, 7032 people have been tested positive out of 679,132 sample tests of whom 6089 have recovered, 886 are active cases while 57 have succumbed to the virus.

Figures from the Ministry of Health indicate that the prevalence of recoveries, deaths and new cases respectively stands at 86.5%, deaths at 0.8% and 2.5%.

Coronavirus symptoms include coughing, flu, and difficulty in breathing. The virus is said to be transmitted through the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract.

Rwandans are urged to adhere to COVID-19 health guidelines, washing hands frequently using soaps and safe water, wearing face masks and respecting social distancing.