Govt says ‘no chance’ schools will close due to COVID-19

THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education says there is no chance that non-examination classes could close early, unless there is an incredibly explosive rise of Covid-19 cases in schools, despite over 30 public schools having been hit by coronavirus countrywide.

As of December 5, Zimbabwe has now recorded 10 617 cases 8 844 recoveries and  291 deaths.

Over 300 pupils, teachers and staff have tested positive to Covid-19at different schools countrywide in recent weeks, prompting fears of a widespread outbreak.

A study done recently singled out transmission of the virus in communities as the main source of outbreaks in schools.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Mr Taungana Ndoro said measures introduced by authorities to help pupils catch up for learning time lost when schools were closed early this year, would become ineffective if schools were to close again.

“There is no chance that non-examination classes could close early, unless there is an incredibly explosive rise of Covid-19 cases in schools,” said Mr Ndoro.

“Out of our 9 625 school, less than 30 schools have had Covid-19 cases throughout the country, so there is no need for schools to close.

“Our Ministry is fully focused on providing inclusive, relevant, quality and wholesome education to all Zimbabweans for the socio-economic development of the nation and the attainment of the National Development Strategy 1 goals and objectives as promulgated by His Excellency the President of Zimbabwe, Cde Mnangagwa.”

Chief coordinator of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva said Government had conducted outbreak investigations in the affected schools, including contact tracing.

“Recommendations from the investigations, that include the need to strengthen adherence to Standard Operating Procedures and guidelines, are being implemented,” said Dr Mahomva.

“In addition, Cabinet this week announced that schools will remain open, only if they adhere to the Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs( and guidelines.

“The Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education; Health and Child Care; Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services and other partners are collaborating to ensure that the school environment is safe.

“Measures being taken will have a positive impact in reducing Covid-19 transmission in the communities, which is the source of infections in our schools.

“The main source of infection in Zimbabwe at the moment is community transmission.”

Mr Ndoro said pupils that tested positive for coronavirus are sitting for their exams separately and under the supervision by health inspectors. He said there were sufficient exam invigilators in schools.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is pleased that no adverse incidences have been reported nationwide as our Standard Operating Procedures have provided for early detection, prevention and management of Covid-19,” he added.

“Candidates who tested positive to Covid-19 are writing their examinations under close monitoring by teams from Ministry of Health and some have recovered while others are on the road to recovery. We have sufficient invigilators, with over 90 percent of teachers now reporting for duty.”

Last week 52 students at Goromonzi and Waddilove High Schools tested positive for Covid-19. Cases have been reported at John Tallach High School in Matabeleland North, Matobo High School in Matabeleland South and Chinhoyi High School in Mashonaland West. ■

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