Conditions set for schools re-opening next Tuesday
Rumbidzayi Zinyuke-Senior Reporter
Schools will reopen for the second term on Tuesday next week under strict compliance with Covid-19 prevention and management protocols to ensure a safe environment for learners.
In January, Government came up with a school calendar with 184 learning days following a long break from classes in 2021 owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw many outbreaks being reported in schools.
The second term is opening 26 days after schools closed on April 7 and will run for 69 days until August 4.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa, said learning institutions will open on May 3 as scheduled.
“The nation is further being informed that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is currently preparing for the safe reopening of schools on May 3, 2022 in full compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the Prevention and Management of Covid-19 as well as other Influenza-like illnesses,” she said.
She said the country had been registering a continued decline in Covid-19 cases due to the policies put in place by the Government and the compliance by citizens, making the reopening of schools on time possible.
The Standard Operating Procedures are minimum terms of operation set by the Government last year to ensure all schools operate in a safe environment without risking a spike in new infections.
They prohibit hugs, handshakes and sharing of desks in schools, while break and lunch times are staggered to prevent crowding.
Sporting activities were also banned and classrooms were only allowed to accommodate a maximum of 35 pupils to allow for social distancing.
Zimbabwe National Association of School Heads president Mr Munyaradzi Majoni said all systems were now in place for schools to receive learners.
“On our side as heads, preparations are at an advanced stage for the reopening of schools. Before we closed, some schools had already received PPE from the Government while in other schools, parents were procuring PPE for their children.
“Schools are doing a lot to make sure that we have a safe environment for the learners in terms of Covid-19. Schools are working with SDCs to ensure the provision of adequate protective clothing and equipment,” he said.
Mr Majoni expressed hope that after the negotiations between the Government and teachers, there would not be a repeat of the industrial action which affected the learning process at the beginning of last term.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro said all protocols for the safe reopening of schools were in place.
“All Covid-19 protocols for the safe reopening of schools remain in place as we anticipate the second phase of the vaccination blitz by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“Parents and guardians are advised to prepare their children for returning to school next week so that we contribute to the socio-economic development of the nation,” he said.
The opening of schools, however, will coincide with the winter season which is usually associated with a spike in Covid-19 cases as well as flu-like illnesses as evidenced by the rise in cases in the past two winters.
Zimbabwe entered the third and worst wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in July last year and the Government has been pushing to ensure that all eligible citizens get vaccinated against the disease.
The inclusion of the 14 to 15-year-old age group in the vaccination programme helped to ensure that most learners in secondary schools and some in Primary schools were protected.
Since the launch of the vaccination blitz last month, over two million vaccines have been administered bringing the cumulative numbers for vaccination to 5 835 047 for the first dose, 3 646 916 for the second jab and 588 440 for the third dose as of yesterday.
Up to yesterday, Zimbabwe has recorded 247 667 Covid-19 cases with 241 500 recoveries and 5 469 deaths.