By Leroy Dzenga
The start of the phased reopening of primary and secondary schools has been set for Tuesday July 28, although Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) June examinations will still run from June 29 to July 22 as there are only 800 centres.
This means that only Form Six, Form Four and Grade Seven classes will resume at the end of July with Lower Six, Form Three and Grade 6 pupils coming in three weeks later.
Other pupils will move back into their classrooms in three more phases.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa gave the date after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and said there was ample time for recommended health measures to be put in place.
“Cabinet resolved that the reopening of schools be moved from the proposed June 29, 2020 to July 28, 2020, to allow the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to engage Treasury and other stakeholders or partners to mobilise for the provision of adequate resources,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
The announcement follows weeks of debate, which have seen submissions from teachers’ unions, Parliament, trust schools and parents to the Government. Most groups are opposed to the early reopening of schools.
“The decision to reopen schools on July 28, 2020, does not affect the June examinations, which are to be held from June 29 to July 22, 2020, as initially proposed,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
June O-Level and A-Level examinations have far fewer candidates than the November exams, with Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema promising adequate social distancing during the examinations, saying there were 9 000 learners registered to write at 800 examination centres.
This translates to an average of around 11 students per centre.
The reopening of schools is being done in phases.
Explaining the reopening sequence, Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mrs Thumisang Thabela said examination classes would be the first group to go to school.
“Phase one, we are looking at examination classes — these are Form Fours, Form Sixes and Grade Sevens,” she said.
This will be followed by a gradual roll-out, which will see an eased increase in school numbers.
“Phase two, which will follow after three weeks will be for classes writing next year. All classes will be split into two at this point,” said Mrs Thabela.
“Phase three is when the rest of high school learners will go to school and in primary, Grades Three, Four and Five will return to schools.”
Lower primary school classes are expected to return towards end of September.
“As we get to phase four, classrooms will be used up due to social distancing. In this phase, Grade One and Two learners will return to class.”
Last to return will be tots in early childhood development class.
Infection prevention training for teachers and support staff from public schools is already underway. The Herald