Govt shuts down varsities, colleges

GOVERNMENT has banned face-to-face lectures at all tertiary institutions and ordered students to vacate residences following a spike in COVID-19 cases, most of them local transmissions.

BY PRECIOUS CHIDA

As of yesterday afternoon, Zimbabwe had 1 713 COVID-19 infections and 26 deaths, with Harare and Bulawayo the epicentres of the virulent respiratory disease, recording 489 and 525 cases, respectively.

“In view of the foregoing, the (Higher and Tertiary Education) ministry is hereby directing that all tertiary education institutions, with immediate effect, suspend face-to-face lectures on campus and continue with e-learning,” permanent secretary Fanuel Tagwira said in a statement yesterday.

“In this regard, all students should vacate halls of residence by Friday July 24, 2020.”

Tagwira said government would ensure that all institutions use e-learning services to protect students from contacting the virus.

“It is now observed that COVID-19 cases are escalating daily and this may put the lives of students and members of staff in our institutions at high risk, therefore, the ministry is working flat out to ensure all institutions are adequately resourced with the necessary infrastructure to facilitate access to quality e-learning,” he said.

Last month, government said universities, which closed on March 24, would reopen for final-year students only after they meet safety guidelines from health experts.

However, local health experts have on several occasions said it was too early for physical resumption of studies in schools or universities in Zimbabwe due to COVID-19.

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