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E-learning may be the way to go in this COVID-19 crisis

Opinion & Analysis
The government finally did the sensible thing and postponed the opening of schools beyond next Tuesday because of the spike in COVID-19 cases and the threat on lives posed by Cyclone Chalane. The experiences after the October reopening should have been adequate warning that schools were always likely to be COVID-19 hotspots given the nature […]

The government finally did the sensible thing and postponed the opening of schools beyond next Tuesday because of the spike in COVID-19 cases and the threat on lives posed by Cyclone Chalane.

The experiences after the October reopening should have been adequate warning that schools were always likely to be COVID-19 hotspots given the nature of our classroom set up.

This decision was at least made in the interest of the health and safety of teachers, supporting staff and students.

The postponement will give government time to monitor transmission of the virus and put in place control measures.

The world is battling the second wave of the coronavirus that has seen cases escalate to alarming levels within a short space of time.

The surge has been attributed to the “new and more contagious variants of the disease” that spreads faster.

Zimbabwe has recorded 359 deaths and 13 325 confirmed cases.

The rise in cases has been attributed to opening of borders, with Zimbabweans based in South Africa where confirmed cases have reached 1 million and 27 600 deaths, returning home for the festive season.

The prolonged closure of schools requires an emergency response to contain the spread of the coronavirus at the same time affording students an opportunity to practise safe learning.

As such, remote learning should be the ideal route because this crisis is not going away, hence, we have to learn to live it, according to the World Health Organisation.

This method of teaching will bridge the gap as it will provide temporary, reliable access to education.

This could be an opportunity for government to put in place modalities to roll out e-learning.

Schools need to adjust to the new normal and it is prudent for them to quickly adopt virtual learning.

It is high time the more than 146 community information centres, that were set up countrywide by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe in an effort to improve access to information and internet in communities, are used to assist in rolling out of virtual learning.

Telecommunication companies should support the government in rolling out e-learning by making sure that their network is always up in all areas.