By Bulawayo Correspondent
AT LEAST 500 students across the country in 2020 tested Covid -19, figures released by the Education Ministry confirm.
However, none of the pupils succumbed to the deadly respiratory disease.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com Sunday, Taungana Ndoro, the communications director in the Education Ministry, said statistics availed to government from across the country show that none of the infected students after contracting the coronavirus and are expected to join pupils when classes reopen.
“No student has died from Covid-19. There were about 500 students who tested Covid-19 positive and all of them have recovered,” said Ndoro.
When schools reopened for the third term in 2020, there was a spike in new Covid-19 infections in some schools especially those with boarding facilities. As a result, some schools were forced to close earlier to avoid a rise in new infections.
Scores of students who tested positive and were writing their final examinations, had to write under supervision in isolation.
The government has since issued a directive that all boarding schools should reduce their intake for Form One students this year as part of measures to control the spread of Covid-19 in schools.
Ndoro said his ministry had also embarked on a schools’ Covid-19 compliance assessment programme ahead of the imminent reopening for the 2021 academic year.
“We have been going around boarding schools in Matabeleland checking adherence of the schools’ preparedness for opening. Our recommendations as a ministry will be forwarded to Cabinet which will have the final say on the way forward,” he said.
Last week, Education Minister Cain Mathema said his ministry was working with all relevant stakeholders including the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) and teachers’ unions to ensure the smooth sailing of the 2021 school calendar.
“We are all ready and have put in place all the necessary preparations for the opening of schools and holding of the examinations. Our teams are busy as we speak on the ground monitoring that all schools have in place the necessary measures to allow them to operate following the necessary Covid-19 protocols,” he said.
“Teachers’ unions have also assured us that teachers are also ready to go back to class; therefore, we can safely say all is in place for the opening of schools for the first term. We are just waiting for the guidance from President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa regarding the Covid-19 lockdown measures which will give us an idea on the actual opening dates.”
However, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has challenged the government to come up with an inclusive Covid-19 assessment stakeholders’ taskforce before schools reopen.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said teachers are ready to open schools at any time, but are worried about the lack of preparedness on the part of the government.