Teachers’ unions and the public yesterday welcomed the Government’s decision to defer schools’ reopening for the second term by two weeks pending a review of the Covid-19 situation, saying the move was motivated by a desire to ensure the safety of pupils.
The Government announced the postponement of schools reopening as Covid-19 cases have continued to rise, with 519 cases and six deaths reported yesterday.
As of yesterday, the country’s cumulative Covid-19 cases stood at 42 714 with 37 288 recoveries and 1 691 deaths. The number of active cases stood at 3 735.
The recovery rate has decreased to 87 percent, with the majority of Covid-19 positive cases being local transmissions.
Cabinet’s decision comes as stakeholders in the education sector including parents and guardians were anxious over the planned reopening of schools which was initially scheduled for June 28, saying the move was likely to trigger new infections at schools.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing yesterday Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the deferment of the reopening was justified after the country witnessed a spike in Covid-19 infections.
“In view of the regional and local upsurge of cases, the nation is informed that Cabinet approved that the reopening of schools and other learning institutions be delayed by 14 days.
“Government will be monitoring the situation and a review would be made after two weeks,” she said.
A student at Harare Polytechnic succumbed to Covid-19 last week with 14 other positive cases being recorded among staff members.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) president Dr Mr Richard Gundani hailed Government’s decision as the right thing to do.
“We had fears and right now we are talking about counting dead bodies. We must ensure that the place is safe first before opening and the best way is to keep schools closed. Life comes first,” said Mr Gundani.
“Even after the two weeks have lapsed, the Government should consider only resuming face-to-face lessons for examination classes only until the situation improves.
“We applaud Government for coming up with forward-looking plans which other countries are emulating.”
National Association of Secondary Heads (NASH) president Mr Arthur Maphosa said: “We saw it coming as a result of the surge in Covid-19 cases.
“There was a possibility cases would shoot up with the travelling and mixing of children from different areas. In as much as we would want the children to return to school, we are a in sort of a war situation where we can only hope to survive if the disease if defeated.”
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union Mr Gibsom Mushangu also praised the Government for prioritising the safety of schoolchildren and civil servants by coming up with preventive measures.
“Learners are lagging behind but we do not want them to go back to school and lose lives. This is certainly the way to go and we had been looking forward to that.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Cabinet has also approved a raft of measures to protect the populace.
“Cabinet has directed the Vehicle Inspection Department and the Zimbabwe Republic Police and other stakeholders to increase surveillance to enforce compliance with Covid-19 regulations for Zupco intercity and intra-urban services,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Pfumvudza concept introduced by the Government has started bearing fruit with Minister Mutsvangwa announcing that the country was having record deliveries of grains compared to the same period last year.
“As of June 21, 2021, total maize delivered to Grain Marketing Board depots across the country stood at 240 204 tonnes, significantly up from the 63 916 tonnes received at the same time last year.
“The quantity of soyabean has similarly increased to 9 858 tonnes, versus the 956 tonnes delivered at the same time last year. The traditional grain tonnage delivered has recorded a phenomenal increase to 21 844 tonnes from the 1 646 tonnes delivered during the 2020 comparative period,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Government was calling upon farmers to continue delivering their grain to GMB depots as timeous payments were guaranteed.
“The Tobacco Marketing Season has also recorded good results, with a total of over 152,8 million kilogrammes having been sold to realise more than US$415,8 million, compared to the 124,5 million kilograms sold for US$296,9 million in 2020.
“The country’s average prices at US$2,72 per kg remain firmer than those prevailing in the region.
“On cotton, it is advised that 145 000 tonnes are expected to be delivered from the established 287 107 hectares during the current marketing season,” she said.