All set for schools opening today
The first term opens today for all classes except Form One and Lower Six, who will be opening separately soon.
Learners said they were happy to be going back to school and hoped that they will not have lessons interrupted by a surge in Covid-19 cases.
The first term will have 45 days for face-to-face learning.
Boarders travelled back to their schools yesterday, and there was activity at the usual pick-up points in Harare, including the Harare Exhibition Park and the Civic Centre Car Park off Abdel Gamal Nasser Road, as parents and guardians bade their children farewell.
Government has indicated that Form One classes will open next week on Monday, with the heads of schools drawing up the class lists this week after the Grade 7 results came out on Friday.
Hard copies of the results will be available today.
The opening of Lower Six would be determined by the release of the 2021 Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Ordinary Level results.
Yesterday, learners started arriving at the pick-up points as early as 5am with the first buses departing Harare around 7am.
Schools including Bradley High School from Mashonaland Central were doing temperature checks and sanitising all learners before boarding the bus, in line with the Covid-19 standard operating procedures.
Most schools were also demanding fees receipts before allowing pupils onto the bus and a handful of learners from Chindunduma 2 High School were seen being turned away for non-payment of fees.
One parent could be heard explaining to school officials that banking halls were too full yesterday and she could not make the payment, and wanted the child to go before she makes the payment today.
St Killian’s High School had some sort of a transport challenge as their three hired buses all filled up, leaving almost 40 learners, who ended up using the same bus as some St Theresa School learners.
Mr Timothy Mabure, whose child attends Daramombe High School, said while preparations were tough, it was impossible for the children to fail to return to school as parents had to make sacrifices.
“We were given one week’s notice to prepare so with the hiking of school fees and groceries, we managed to run around.
“We thank God that this time around they returned early unlike last year. Our fear was that some would engage in drug abuse and even child marriages, but at least at school they will have a little bit of discipline,” said Mr Mabure.
A parent whose child attends Chindunduma 2 High, who declined to be named, bemoaned the turning away of learners for not paying full fees.
“The opening of schools is a welcome initiative. Only that I got fees at the last moment and when I tried to pay fees on Saturday, the bank was overwhelmed. So my child has been denied entry onto the bus without fees receipts.
“We are now returning home. The school is saying its swipe machine is offline. Hopefully, I will manage to pay on Monday. If I pay early I will hire a car to take my child to school,” said the parent.
Another parent who only identified himself as Mr Rukweza, bemoaned the poor transport logistics by St Killian’s School.
“Learners failed to fit into all the three buses supplied, forcing us parents to arrange by ourselves to get an extra bus which caused a lot of inconveniences on the part of the children and us.
“I woke up very early and now it is around 11am and children are still here. We have to combine them with learners from another school for them to go. We hope they will travel safely. I missed church service because of this inconvenience,” said Mr Rukweza.
Mrs Priscilla Zisengwe, whose child learns at Msengezi High School, said she hopes learners will behave at school and observe the stipulated Government and World Health Organisation Covid-19 regulations to ensure the pandemic does not spread again in schools.
A Form Three learner at Dewure High School, Tanaka Seyaseya, vowed to work hard and urged his colleagues to do the same.
“I am excited to be going back to school, our holiday was quite long. I really missed being at school with colleagues. I hope to do my best this time around.”
Another learner, Lincon Bumba, said: “I just hope that Covid-19 will spare us this year. On my part, I will make sure that I observe all the precautions including wearing a face mask and sanitising my hands regularly,” he said.
Last Friday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Evelyn Ndlovu said the Government had put in place the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of contracting Covid-19.
Minister Ndlovu said the Government will continue to support schools with the vision of basic personal protective equipment in a bid to enhance the prevention and management of the spread of Covid-19 not only in schools but among all citizens.
“In light of this, all eligible 16 and 17-year-old learners are urged to join the nation’s efforts to continue fighting the pandemic through taking advantage of the Government’s free vaccination programme. Let us turn our schools into Covid-19 free zones.
“The ministry advises that the wearing of face masks and washing of hands as well as physical distance are a must in the fight against Covid-19 at all our schools and learning centres in order to ensure a safe learning environment for our learners as well as to assure us of uninterrupted and accelerated implementation of teaching and learning activities,” she said in a statement read by the Permanent Secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela.