Normal lessons resume at Jameson High Minister Torerai Moyo

Conrad Mupesa Mashonaland West Bureau

Students and staff at Jameson High School in Kadoma restart normal learning from Monday after the school was temporarily closed last week when 55 students and six staff members were admitted at Kadoma General Hospital after inhaling a gas that has still not been identified.

Experts are now certain that the gas emissions have ended.

The school remains under expert surveillance, with health and other technical staff continuing to monitor the area, but present testing has found no traces of the gas that caused the problem.

The majority of the affected were female pupils and workers.

About 60 learners at the nearby Monroe Primary School were also affected by the gas, but the effects were significantly milder.

Although the gas has not yet been identified, and its source not found, the Government has agreed to reopen the school on Monday with boarders expected on campus tomorrow.

Speaking on Thursday after an all-stakeholder meeting at the school, whose purpose was to check the preparedness of the relevant ministries and departments towards resumption of lessons, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Torerai Moyo said all systems were now in place.

“The source of the gas has not been found suggesting that perhaps there could be an underground tunnel where the gas is coming from or maybe it’s just something which is strange,” he said.

“What is peculiar with Jameson High School is that out of the 55 students, 50 were females. But, as we speak, we have observed that the effects of the gas are no longer visible.

“The examination classes are back at school and we have made a recommendation that on Sunday, all the boarders should come back and classes are going to resume on Monday.”

Minister Moyo commended the Zimbabwe National Army’s ballistic unit, the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s forensic unit and members of the Civil Protection Unit for rising to the occasion.

“Assessments are, however, going to continue and, if any problems are going to arise from Monday, action will be taken,” he added.

The School Development Committee chairman, Mr Lovejoy Ngara, thanked the Government for its swift response to the incident.

“We are happy that our children are coming back and mind you this is an examination period,” he said. “Authorities are taking corrective measures to identify the source of the problem and I believe our children are in good hands.”

Mashonaland West Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Marian Chombo said collective investigations were done including air quality tests for methane gas, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulphide, high levels of carbon dioxide in the environment.

All the gases were absent.

Officials from the health, environment and security departments were at the school conducting investigations into a smell that was also smelt by residents from nearby suburbs.

Samples from the students were taken for toxicology tests to Midlands State University, the University of Zimbabwe and South Africa to help ascertain the cause of the incident.

The results are pending.

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