Preparations continue for the “inevitable re-opening” of schools with Covid-19 control measures informed by World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines being put in place to avoid a spike in infections when classes resume and with school health co-ordinators being trained.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said there was a collaboration between the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to set the stage for the classes’ resumption.
“Regarding primary and secondary education, the responsible ministry continues to work with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to prepare for the inevitable re-opening of schools.
“Meanwhile, the training of school health coordinators and the assessment of the schools’ preparations for the resumption of learning is ongoing. Government is doing its best to ensure that adequate precautionary measures are taken before schools are opened,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Last year a raft of measures were implemented to ensure a safe learning environment, including the recruitment of more teachers to ensure classes were smaller in line with social distancing rules.
Sanitation in schools was also improved to enable exams to be written in a safer environment with Government spending $600 million on needy schools.
Under the national vaccination programme, a large part of the second phase is concentrated on lecturers and teachers, who will be vaccinated after the frontline staff, elderly and those with chronic complaints are done.
Minister Mutsvangwa announced that the Russian Federation has promised to donate vaccines, joining China whose donated Sinopharm vaccine is already being administered to frontline health workers, and India whose gift was confirmed by President Mnangagwa last week.
Given the risk the media is exposed to in line of duty, Cabinet also approved that journalists be prioritised in the immunisation programme under the first phase of inoculation.
India has promised to give 75 000 doses and Russia 12 000 doses to Zimbabwe, said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Meanwhile, the Government of Zimbabwe has put together resources sufficient to procure Covid-19 vaccines to cover the herd immunity of 10 million people.
“Cabinet has approved the request by the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to include journalists in Phase One of the
inoculation because journalism is listed as an essential service in SI 93 of 2020 and the media plays a crucial role in providing information that saves lives,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development asked the Minister of Health and Child Care to designate the roads sector as an essential service under the lockdown regulations.
The ministry said their request was premised on the fact that roads created an enabling environment in any economy as they bridged the conveyance gap between supply and demand.
The importance of roads was further amplified in responses to disaster situations with the current above-normal rains have bringing severe damage to the national road network leaving communities cut off from essential services.