Govt rejects schools closure proposal
THE government has remained steadfast that schools and higher learning institutions will remain open despite the increasing cases of Covid-19 among students, the Daily News reports.
Since last week, Zimbabwe has been recording a rise in Covid-19 cases with schools such as John Tallach in Matabeleland South now at 189, while in Mashonaland West Province, Chinhoyi High’s coronavirus infections have gone up to 57.
Matopo High School in Matabeleland South has 10 positive cases. Tertiary institutions like Chinhoyi University of Technology and Midlands State University have also had confirmed cases.
Responding to legislators, who accused the government of not being proactive in its Covid-19 fight, leader of government business in Parliament Ziyambi Ziyambi on Wednesday said schools must implement the standard operation procedure given to them by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.
“What we have decided as the government is that we have to adapt and live in the new normal. What we cannot do is, if a school in Chinhoyi has an outbreak of Covid-19, we then close a school in Mutare.
“We look at it case-by-case and say we have had cases here, what we do to ensure the safety of the learners as well as to ensure that learners continue learning. We have realised that we can literally have a 365-day lockdown.
“At one point or the other, we will have sporadic cases of Covid-19, and indeed we are now experiencing a second wave, but we need to ensure that we adhere to what the ministry of Health is prescribing as to what WHO is telling us and ensure we educate all of us on the dangers of Covid-19 then we can move forward in the new normal,” Ziyambi said.
Ziyambi said when an outbreak occurs at a school, the government ensures that it contains the area around the institution and ensures that learners are taken care of.
When MPs demanded to know what mechanisms the government had put in place to ensure schools are equipped with adequate personal protective equipment so that parents are not burdened with having to chip in, Ziyambi said it was every stakeholder’s responsibility to ensure safety of learners and teachers.
“The long and short of it is that parents, the government and everyone must come together and ensure that we have all that we need to fight the disease be it at schools or wherever we are. The government is doing its effort. “We have mobilised resources through NatPharm, but parents are also doing that. Schools have also come on board and everyone has come on board to ensure that we live in this new normal and try to ensure that our learners go to school,” said the minister.
Ziyambi also dismissed as incorrect suggestions by legislators that the government was deliberately exposing children to Covid-19 by keeping schools opened.
“Even if we were to say that we test all the learners using PCR and we say all the negative PCR learners are admitted to school, it is not 100 percent full proof that they do not have Covid-19.
“I say so because if I get Covid-19 now and I go for testing now, even PCR will be negative because the viral load will be low.
“The measures that we are putting in place to say that if an outbreak happens, the protocol that we follow is one, two, three, four is necessary because we have to adapt and ensure that we live with the new normal.
“The virus is with us until such time either we have a cure or a vaccine, we have to find ways of ensuring that we learn.
“We had a lockdown; MPs were not coming to Parliament. What it meant is if we had said just because we do not have a cure or vaccine, we were supposed to close the whole year, but we came up with a mechanism to say as Parliament we need to ensure that the government functions.
“Parliament was recalled and we made it an essential service. Learners must go to school, but we have put in place through the ministry of Health standard operating procedures to say should an outbreak happen what is it that needs to be done and the schools are working well with the rapid response team to ensure that they contain the disease.”