Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
CABINET is today expected to announce its decision on the issue of reopening of schools after Government postponed the start of the second term following a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Schools were scheduled to open on June 28 for the second term but an increase in Covid-19 infections forced Government to postpone face-to-face learning.
President Mnangagwa imposed a tightened national level four lockdown: a dusk to dawn curfew was effected, intercity travel was banned, businesses were directed to operate between 8AM to 3.30PM, with public and private sector required to decongest the workplace to 40 percent capacity.
This is the second time this year for Government to postpone schools opening as it did the same in January after Covid-19 cases increased.
Officials have blamed the recent spike in Covid-19 cases on complacency.
Universities and colleges also suspended face-to-face lectures in the wake of rising Covid-19 infections.
Cabinet last week deployed schools inspectors to assess the schools readiness for reopening.
In an interview yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education Ministry communications and advocacy director Mr Taungana Ndoro said the ministry expects to get a directive from Cabinet on when schools will reopen today.
“Let’s wait for Cabinet meeting tomorrow. It (Cabinet) is expected to guide us on when schools shall reopen,” said Mr Ndoro, in a brief comment.
Meanwhile, health experts have said it will be prudent to postpone the reopening of schools.
Matabeleland North acting provincial medical director Dr Munekayi Pandingani said there is a need to break the cycle of new infections before schools reopen.
He said this while responding to Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema who wanted to get medical opinion on when schools should reopen during Matabeleland North Covid-19 Provincial Taskforce meeting on Sunday.
The meeting was held at Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in Bulawayo.
“In my view we are not yet ready to reopen schools. We are still recording new infections so it might not be appropriate to reopen schools now. I also suggest that when schools reopen all pupils learning in boarding schools have to be tested for Covid-19 before they return to schools.
Most of our Covid-19 cases in schools are coming from boarding schools. We have not recorded so many cases in day schools, largely because we tell learners who might have flue like symptoms not to come to school when they feel feverish. But pupils in boarding schools stay together that is why we are recording high infections in boarding schools,” said Dr Padingani.
Minister Mathema urged the acting PMD to include his recommendation on the provincial report which he was going to table before Cabinet.
The minister urged teachers to get vaccinated ahead of schools reopening and directed the provincial education director Mr Jabulani Mpofu to liaise with schools heads to get their staff vaccinated.
In response, Mr Mpofu said most school staff got vaccinated when the programme was extended to them.
Government has said it would let science guide its Covid-19 response while balancing between saving lives and having a functional economy. — @nqotshili