GOVERNMENT will not shutdown schools in the face of rising numbers of students that have caught the coronavirus in recent weeks, forcing several schools to close.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said instead government would intensify monitoring and implementation of COVID-19 regulations as opposed to shutting down the institutions.
“In order to control the spread of COVID-19 in schools, the following measures are being implemented: Intensification of the supervision and inspection of boarding school facilities; providing potable water to 48 schools in Bulawayo which are in dire need of the essential commodity; strengthening of public health response measures in affected schools; supporting all education institutions to fully implement COVID-19 standard operating procedures; and implementing COVID-19 protective and preventive measures in the social spaces beyond school premises,” she said after the Cabinet meeting yesterday.
Since opening of schools, an increase in COVID-19 cases have been reported, mostly at bordering schools forcing parents to call on government to shut down schools. Mutsvangwa admitted that the numbers of those infected in schools were worrisome.
“Of concern, is the increase in the number of new cases detected, from 281 recorded in week 46 to 594 in week 47 following the re-opening of schools,” she said.
Schools have been recording an increase in COVID-19 cases, with John Tallach in Matabeleland North recording over 189, Chinhoyi High School over 88 cases, among others. Teachers unions say over 400 cases have been recorded in schools.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema said he was not aware of any school that closed due to COVID-19 since teachers returned to work.
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“We have about 93% of teachers back in schools and examinations have also started. I am not aware of any school that is closing or that will close because of COVID-19,” Mathema said. Amid fears that Zimbabwe could be hit by a second wave of COVID-19, government has further relaxed regulations increasing the number of people allowed to gather and business hours.
“Opening hours of restaurants will, therefore, be extended from the current 1830 hours closing time to 2000 hours. Restaurant operators are called upon to strictly observe these hours of operation, ensure COVID-19 prevention protocols and guidelines are observed, which will be strictly enforced. Similarly, those patronising the restaurants should ensure that they adhere to curfew hours,” Mutsvangwa said.
Gathering regardless of reason is now restricted to 100 people according to the new regulations announced by government.