Zimbabwe: Preps for Schools Reopening Advanced

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Preparations for the reopening of schools have reached an advanced stage with Government inspecting all schools to ensure they are compliant with Covid-19 control protocols to avoid a spike in infections.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education officials, working in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, are on the ground to ascertain if adequate measures, informed by World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, are in place.

The nationwide inspection of schools will include private and mission schools.

Schools reopening is drawing closer following the recently launched countrywide vaccination programme.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema reported positive feedback in the ongoing assessments.

"We are assessing the preparedness of all schools so that they will be ready to open when we have been authorised to do so. We do not want a situation where other schools will not be ready when we are allowed to resume classes.

"We have done this before, like the writing of examinations in a safe environment for learners and we want to make sure the learning environment is safe. All the schools have to comply to ensure the safety of both learners and teachers," he said.

Minister Mathema said the exercise was not meant to inconvenience parents, learners and teachers, but a move to ensure safety for all stakeholders, dismissing some baseless claims that students might be affected by the measures.

He said it was disheartening that learners were not going to school because of the Covid-19 containment measures which were, however, meant to protect them from the virus.

"We want a situation where learners are at school. We are not happy that they are not going to school and some are being involved in mischief.

"But like what the President has always been saying, we need to prioritise life. We are in the middle of a global pandemic and it is not safe to have children in a school environment."

"My appeal to parents is to make sure their children leave their homes with face masks. Even schools are now manufacturing them. When students are at schools, we have systems in place to monitor adherence," said Minister Mathema.

In keeping with social distancing rules, the classes would be broken into smaller groups handled by additional teachers.

Following a directive from President Mnangagwa, Government is employing more teachers enabling schools to run smaller classes and minimise the risk of a spike in Covid-19 infections.

Last year, Government also availed $600 million for disbursement to needy schools to improve sanitation and enable them to reopen safely without risking a spike in Covid-19 infections.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care said they had given their Primary and Secondary Education counterparts guidelines to follow for a safe resumption of classes.

The guidelines, crafted by medical experts, are anchored on minimising the risk of infecting others through the enforcement of social distancing regulations among other things.

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