Universities are opening next Monday and this will be followed by schools that are scheduled to open two or three weeks after. Government said as part of preparations for schools opening which will be in phases, it was working on hiring an additional 6 000 teachers.
The examination classes will be the first to resume classes. These are Grade Seven, O-level and A-level classes. Phase Two which will follow after three weeks will be for classes writing next year. All classes will be split into two to allow social distancing.
Phase Three is when the rest of high school learners resume classes and at primary level those resuming classes under the same phase will be Grades Three, Four and Five. Lower primary school classes which are Grades One and Two are expected to return to school towards the end of winter.
It is our fervent hope that Government, working with relevant authorities, is preparing for the opening of both universities and schools. The issue of classrooms, lecture rooms and hostels at universities and schools has to be addressed to ensure that students and pupils are not exposed to Covid-19 pandemic.
Universities and schools should have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) that include face masks and sanitisers. Authorities at both universities and schools should also ensure that the lecture rooms and classrooms allow for social distancing.
The hostels accommodating students and pupils should also allow for social distancing. It is important given the numbers of students at universities and schools to strictly adhere to regulations meant to curb the spread of the virus.
In neighbouring South Africa which is also planning to re-open schools, teachers have said they are not satisfied with measures put in place to guarantee both their safety and that of pupils and we do not want to be found wanting regarding the same issue.
The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development should have started inspecting universities to assess their readiness to open on Monday. We also expect the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to do the same at schools so that students and pupils’ safety is guaranteed.
Zimbabwe like the rest of Africa has been able to contain the spread of the virus and we do not want to witness a spike of cases as a result of the opening of universities and schools. Many companies have been allowed to resume operations under level two of the national lockdown and the situation has remained under control.
The challenge is therefore to maintain this and what is positive is the high recovery figures and few deaths. The country has so far recorded four deaths and 25 recoveries.
We want at this juncture to implore each and every citizen not to relax and be reckless as the threat of the pandemic is real as it continues to kill thousands globally.
It has been repeatedly said Zimbabwe’s salvation, like any other developing nation, is to prevent the spread of Covid-19 hence the need to direct all efforts at prevention.