Covid-19: Schools re-opening plan outlined

By ZBC Reporter

All schools will be reopened in a phased manner over the next six weeks, with the government having set aside $600 million to be distributed to needy schools to increase sanitation and ensure students are protected from Covid-19.

Cabinet this Tuesday approved the 3 phases as follows: Phase 1 will open on September 28; this will entail exam classes Grade 7, Forms 4 and 6 as announced a few weeks ago.

Phase 2 which involves Grade 6, Form 3 and Form 5 will open on the 26th of October 2020. Finally on the 9th of November 2020 the rest of the classes, that is, ECD A and B, Grade 1,2,3,4,5, Form 1 and 2 will go back to school.

In a post-cabinet brief last night, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said cabinet is pleased that Cambridge Examination Centres reopened successfully on 14 September 2020 and no health incidents were reported.

She highlighted that all the necessary measures to ensure that schools are reopened in a safe environment are being taken.

“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.

“Most of the Districts are reporting improved levels of preparedness by schools. Cabinet approved that a COVID-19 sentinel surveillance system is 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.”

Eight teachers’ unions yesterday expressed their concerns over supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the need for improved salaries so teachers could get to work.

However, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema allayed their concerns both in terms of their protection and salaries.

The Government has set aside $600 million to be distributed to needy schools to increase sanitation, he said, and the Government and representatives of civil servants are in discussions over salaries and negotiations are continuing.

“On the personal protective equipment issue, all teachers and learners will be protected; supporting staff will be protected. You can be rest assured that what is required at each public school will be available,” said Minister Mathema.

The issue of salaries was confirmed by Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube. “We have a process where there are negotiations. I cannot pre-empt the outcome, I do not know the outcome. But as Government, we have expressed to civil servants what we can afford. I am sure we will be able to find some middle ground and move forward as usual,” said Prof Ncube.

National Association of Secondary Heads president, Mr Arthur Maphosa, raised concerns over the transport of pupils and teachers to schools when they reopen.

In response Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet had already approved dedicated Zupco buses to ferry pupils to schools for examinations.

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