By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Zimbabwe school grades sitting for final public examinations will be the only ones allowed to reopen as the country takes cautious steps towards delayed reopening of learning in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Education Ministry and relevant stakeholders are reported to have come up with a phased road-map that will see final public examination classes with those sitting this June reopening.
The June 2020 examination period for Ordinary Level will run from June 30 to July 20, while the Advanced Level session will begin on June 30 and end on July 23.
Public examination phases under phase one are; Grade Sevens, Forms Four and Six respectively.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists during a post Cabinet media brief Tuesday that the decision was taken following consultation with stakeholders in the education sector.
“With regards to education, Cabinet noted the detailed operational plan put in place by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that was developed in consultation with stakeholders,” Mutsvangwa said.
“However, following a marked increase in Covid-19 cases, Cabinet approved that only examination classes should initially open schools in order for schools to be able to put prevention measures in place.
“These measures include, social distancing, limiting of class sizes, hand sanitisation and mandatory wearing of masks by both students and teachers at all times.
“Students will be expected to return home immediately after examinations.”
Mutsvangwa added; “Depending on the outcome of the first phase, a way forward can then be mapped for the other classes, and the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education will subsequently issue a date for the commencement of the other classes.”
In a bid to free public schools currently operating as quarantine centres, Mutsvangwa said alternative centres, mostly vocational training institutions with a capacity to accommodate 2 636 people had been identified throughout the provinces.
All schools currently being used as quarantine centres are expected to be vacated by 9 June 2020, she said.
Hotels and lodges to accommodate returnees who can self-finance during the quarantine period have also been identified.
Schools, colleges and universities have been closed since March as part of Zimbabwe’s efforts to fight the Covid-19 spread.