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School heads demand staggered reopening

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BY CHAMUNORWA MATANHIKE

The Zimbabwe Union of School Heads (ZINUSH) has recommended staggered reopening of schools, with examination classes getting priority after all World Health Organisation safety precautions against COVID-19 infections have been observed.

In a letter dated August 16, 2021, addressed to Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela, the school heads said it would be risky to allow all learners to attend at once.

“Members throughout the 10 provinces generally feel that the opening of schools, albeit a staggered format (starting with exam classes) if key conditions are met,” ZINUSH secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni wrote.

“ZINUSH recognises that the ministry should ensure that all schools in Zimbabwe have received sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) before announcing the schools opening dates.

“Delegating the responsibility to supply PPEs to parents will not be ideal at this stage considering the fact that most schools have bank accounts in the red zone.”

Last month, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government was preparing for reopening of schools, but ordered parents to assist government in the provision of PPE for their children.

ZINUSH also urged government to prioritise workers from the Education ministry for vaccination.

The school heads called on government to speedily conclude salary negotiations with teachers before schools open.

“The Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare needs to sincerely engage unions representing members of the education sector before schools open to avoid the perennial labour unrest in education,” ZINUSH said.

“The government needs to urgently expedite the employment of more teachers in all public schools. Heads and deputies in almost all provinces report that there are lots of vacancies in public schools which, if unaddressed, will force most schools to enlarge their class sizes putting the lives of both education practitioners and learners at risk.”

Schools in Zimbabwe have been closed since June 4, 2021, as part of a COVID-19 containment measure.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro was not available for comment.

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