Thursday, 27 January 2022

SCHOOLS SET TO OPEN, SAYS MINISTER

ALL systems are now in place to open schools and return to standard face-to-face classes in a safe environment when the Presidential proclamation is made to resume these classes. That moment is approaching as the Covid-19 infection rates continue to decline.

By Wednesday the average daily Covid-19 infection rate had fallen to 235, still well above the rate seen between waves of infection but just 15 percent of the 1 500 a day plateau prevailing when President Mnangagwa ordered schools not to open for the time being.

This is also just 35 percent of the rates prevailing when that closure was extended for another two weeks a fortnight ago by Acting President Constantino Chiwenga.

At that time it was made clear that a week’s notice would be given of any opening to ensure that all the measures required for the safest possible learning environment were fully implemented.

Responsible ministries — Health and Child Care as well as Primary and Secondary Educatio — are working together in implementing the standard operating procedures while preparing for a return of learners as soon as the green light is given.

There are a few schools whose infrastructure was damaged by this week’s rains brought by Tropical Depression Ana and the Government has already put shoulders to the wheel to repair the damaged structures quickly before the Presidential decision is made anytime from today.

The Presidential decisions were designed to be temporary and to be lifted as soon as infection rates were low enough to allow minimum risk to learners, while everyone agreed that classes should resume as soon as that level was reached.

Acting Minister of Health and Child Care, Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira said the two ministries were working together to ensure that there was a safe opening as soon as the President says “go”.

The two ministries were waiting for today’s decision when the level two lockdown is likely to be extended to see if the education sector was still included.

“The principle which is there is that whenever he announces that he is going to ease off the lockdown, it is at that point that he will give one week for schools to prepare.

Acting President Dr Chiwenga implored teachers and eligible learners, those 16 and over, to take advantage of the national vaccination programme and get vaccinated before the resumption of face-to-face classes.

They both took heed with a convincing vaccine uptake for both teachers and the eligible learners as modalities are being worked on to vaccinate younger age groups.

As with other civil servants, teachers in the public service are now vaccinated and the vaccination rates were high for the senior forms late last year when 16 and 17-year-olds were included in the national programme.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro noted that they need to repair some schools whose infrastructure was damaged.

There were not many in this state but when the Presidential go ahead is given it will be all systems go.

“Yes, we are more than ready. However, some schools have been affected by the rains and roofs have been blown off so we are working flat out to repair that infrastructure,” said Mr Ndoro.

“In proportion to all schools, there are not many but still, we need them repaired and we have started modalities and assessments.

“In terms of Covid-19 management we have adjusted to the new reality and ensure that we have enough stocks for sanitisers, soap and water,” said Mr Ndoro. Herald

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