Mukudzei Chingwere-Herald Reporter
There will only be two school terms this year with the second term running from when classes open next week or the week after and ending on December 17, just a week before Christmas, to maximise the learning time available.
Because there are 80 school days in this second and final term, rather than the usual average of 60, fees and levies can be set at one and a third times the normal term fee for exam classes under the formula issued yesterday by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
Cabinet on Wednesday, after being assured that schools could open with little risk of infection, set the start of the second and final term for Monday next week for the three examination classes with the rest returning a week later on Monday September 6.
The Government also approved the vaccination of everyone above 14 years which will make almost all secondary school learners eligible.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Tumisang Thabela yesterday set out in a circular the details of how the schools will reopen, stressing the need to continue following close observance of the World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health and Child Care protocols and guidelines.
“Schools are therefore reminded to adhere to the provisions of the standard operating procedures guide as read with the standard guidelines for the coordinated prevention and management of the Covid-19 pandemic at all learning institutions of Zimbabwe to ensure a safe, secure and healthy environment for learners, teachers and all stakeholders.”
“The fees and levies for the second and final session 2021 will be charged on a prorata basis given by: number of days in the final session divided by average number of days in a term multiplied by approved fees and levies for each term,” said Mrs Thabela. This comes to 1,33 times the approved fee.
She said schools should ensure and monitor that adequate PPEs quantities are in place and social distancing protocols are observed “by arranging that learners attend school on alternate days and in sessions for mega schools. Examination classes have to attend every day.”
School heads, said Mrs Thabela, should stand guided by the Ministry of Health and Child Care for any other activities, and maintain an accurate contact register.
“Keep doors and windows open to ensure adequate ventilation. Create and regularly update a social register or database for both learners and teachers. Display Information Education and Communication materials at all strategic places.”
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa also told the Senate that the Government has approved the vaccination of those above 14, and emphasised that measures informed by WHO protocols were observed for a safe resumption.
She said teachers were given the opportunity to be vaccinated in the initial stages and those yet to get their shots should take advantage of the free inoculation exercise provided by the Government.
National Association of Secondary Heads president Mr Arthur Maposa said schools are a safe place to be for learners to help them from escaping such vices like child pregnancies and marriages.
“We are happy schools are reopening, that is the place where school children should be and they are safe at school. We have seen issues such as child marriages and pregnancies, these can be avoided if they are at school.
“When Government said we should prepare for the reopening of schools some did not prepare, so we hope parents and the Government will also provide more PPEs so that everybody will be ready,” said Mr Maposa.