Crackdown on schools defying Covid-19 rules looms

Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter

Public health measures to minimise Covid-19 infection risks will be rigidly enforced in all schools after Government found cases of a flagrant disregard of regulations, especially in private schools, which have been partly blamed for sporadic Covid-19 outbreaks in schools.

Cabinet yesterday noted that some private schools are not observing provisions of the Education Act, which allows general instructions to all schools, and are allowing parents to withdraw boarders from school for exeat weekend or for half term school breaks, both of which have been banned. 

Under the Public Health Act, the Government has the right to make regulations that apply to all.

Speaking after yesterday’s Cabinet Meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said though infections among learners in schools are decreasing, unsanctioned movement was being brought to a halt.

“Movement of boarders during term time as well as general non-compliance with the standard operating procedures for the prevention and management of Covid-19 and other influenza-like illnesses in the primary and secondary education sector has contributed to outbreaks in schools,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“It has been observed that some private schools are not fully observing of the provisions of the Education Act as evidenced by the continued practice of allowing parents to withdraw boarders from school for exeat weekend or for half term school breaks during the pandemic, and that enforcement of the Public Health Act on such unsanctioned movement of learners during the pandemic will be evoked and strengthened.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet also noted the need to ramp up vaccination to attain national herd immunity by year end as targeted. So far more than 3,27 million people have received their first dose while more than 2,54 million have been fully vaccinated.

The public health sector, being rapidly upgraded with the progress accelerated after Covid-19 infections started, will see more improvements.

The Cabinet yesterday approved the proposed introduction of the national health service training and induction modules under the public service academy.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the envisaged training programmes will equip healthcare workers with correct standard operating procedures in the discharge of their duties, improved and efficient management skills, and patriotism that promote transparency, accountability and good governance and a high performance work culture that goes beyond the call of duty.

“The public will recall that, at its 28th meeting, Cabinet agreed that the national health service training and induction be developed,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. 

“It is in line with this directive that the modules will be introduced.”

Minister Mutsvangwa said the modules will cover the following areas that are essential for health personnel to execute their duties:

 Public health service orientation, aimed at including areas on national heritage and patriotism.

 Management skills development is expected to include such areas as transformational leadership, finance management, corporate governance.

 Conflict management and courses covering such areas as gender, diversity and asset inventory.

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