Sunday, 2 May 2021


COVID-19 has claimed the lives of two teachers while no pupil has succumbed to the virus since the reopening of schools this term across the country.

While one life lost is one too many — the Government is implementing measures such as the ongoing countrywide Covid-19 vaccination programme aimed at mitigating against the spread of the virus.

The second stage of the national vaccination programme against Covid-19 opened in March with teachers, the elderly and people with underlying conditions getting their jabs.

The first stage included frontline health workers, members of the uniformed forces, journalists and staff at ports of entry.

Last year, the Government set up Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that have proved effective in dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks at learning institutions. The SOPs prohibit hugs, handshakes and sharing of desks in schools.

Break and lunch time must be staggered to prevent crowding by learners while sporting activities are banned. A classroom should accommodate a maximum of 35 pupils to ensure social distancing.

Schools opened for the first term of the year in March after a Covid-19 precautionary delay of three months following warnings of a potential third wave.

As part of the wider measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19, the Government has directed schools with a higher number of students to implement a rotational time table that allows pupils to attend class on different days to allow them to practise social distancing.

The Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima while addressing National Social Security Authority (Nssa) pensioners’ representatives during an engagement forum held in Gweru on Thursday, said under the vision of President Mnangagwa measures were put in place to safeguard the lives of learners, teachers, members of staff and communities.

“There was a spike in Covid-19 cases in schools soon after reopening. The spike was associated with schools reopening but Government could not close the schools forever. They had to open at some time and so the Government relaxed Covid-19 lockdown induced rules and regulations. One or two teachers lost their life’s due to this virus but we are glad that we haven’t lost a child in the school environment. We can’t celebrate the loss of the lives because all the lives matter but Government is doing all it can to mitigate against the spread of the virus in and outside schools,” said Prof Mavima.

He said as winter approaches- measures should be put in place to protect the learners and teachers in the schools. “We prefer no Covid-19 cases as we go into winter,” said Prof Mavima. “With Government seized with taming the Covid-19 pandemic, which was declared a national disaster by President Mnangagwa, I am pleased to note that Nssa continues to play a leadership role on this front. In response to prevailing economic fundamentals exacerbated by the Covid- 19 pandemic, the Government through Nssa has implemented a raft of measures to ease the financial burden on pensioners,” he said.

Nssa, he said, is concerned with saving the lives of its pensioners. “In this regard, the Nssa Board approved vaccination for Covid-19 under a Nssa sponsored arrangement for the most vulnerable groups among Nssa pensioners. The most vulnerable were identified as the elderly, as well as people with disabilities,” he said.

The Authority is also exploring other ways to improve the welfare of pensioners through non-monetary benefits such as waivers of bank charges, discounts when purchasing goods at participating shops, the setting up of a revolving fund for retirees and pensioners as well as assisting with medical care mainly through the Nssa mobile clinic and clinics that will be set up in all regions.

Pensioners are also set to benefit from empowerment projects such as goat farming out grower schemes to enable generation of extra income. Chronicle


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