THE government has announced a phased reopening of all school grades starting on Monday amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily News reports.
This comes as teachers yesterday said they will not return to work for the Zimsec examination classes expected to start next week if the government does not address the issue of poor remuneration and guarantee their safety against Covid-19.
Speaking during a post-Cabinet media briefing held in Harare last night, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Grade 6, Form 3 and Form 5 classes would resume on October 26, 2020 under phase two, while the remaining classes, including early child development (ECD) to Grade 5, Form 1 and Form 2 would resume on November 9 under phase three.
“Cabinet notes that all the necessary measures are being taken to ensure that schools are reopened for examination classes in a safe environment. Progress has been made on the comprehensive logistical plan for the coordinated, accelerated completion of the schools’ WASH project; the supply and distribution of PPE, hygiene kits, disinfectants, and infrared thermometers to all public schools.
“Cabinet approved that a Covid-19 sentinel surveillance system be established in schools to monitor the behaviour of the virus and make adjustments where necessary. There will also be dedicated Zupco buses to ferry learners to schools for examinations,” Mutsvangwa said.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema said schools would be required to split classes into morning and afternoon classes and to allocate days for specific grades in a bid to reduce the number of students in a class and in the school.
The announcement came a few hours after teachers’ unions, including the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe National Teachers Union and Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers’ Union, had argued that schools were not prepared to open, adding that there was need for the government to conduct wider consultations with major stakeholders, including the teachers.
“We, the undersigned teacher unions in Zimbabwe, now therefore, urge the government to ensure that schools are safe to receive the learners and teachers and their health, safety and welfare are highly prioritised.
“Indeed, there is nothing as dangerous as having under-paid, undernourished, under-resourced and demotivated teachers in the classrooms because teachers are in essence role models of their communities and society and help to shape the future of individuals, society and the country. It is only well-paid, healthy, motivated, innovative and dynamic teachers that can fulfil this vital cog of sustainable development,” read part of the statement.
Meanwhile, Mutsvangwa announced further relaxation of the national lockdown which would see the resumption of driving schools for the issuance of driving certificates and other services to public drivers to facilitate the smooth reopening of intercity travel.
She added that Cabinet had revised upwards the gathering of churches from 50 to 100.
“Cabinet was informed that the Experts Advisory Committee conducted a modelling exercise on current local and international Covid-19 data and noted that the Zimbabwe epidemic has not peaked as previously predicted due to the control measures that have been put in place. The committee also concluded that the decreasing number of new infections is an indication of an epidemic coming under control,” she said.
Cabinet also approved the proposal and attendant budget of US$1 million which will result in the establishment of a plant for the local manufacture of number plates.
This comes as the country is currently experiencing shortages in number plates owing to the unavailability of foreign currency to import the pates.
“The selling price of one registration plate will be significantly reduced from the current US$80,35 to US$45,61. The use of local materials will save the country foreign currency and reduce the import bill by 56 percent, currently the country spends 700 00 Euro annually on importing number plates,” Mutsvangwa said.