THERE is need to adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic and allow for the smooth flow of learning activities in adherence with strict precautionary measures, even if that entails changing the current school calendar, a Cabinet Minister has said.
In its post Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, the Government announced that schools will remain closed for the next two weeks as a result of the surging Covid-19 cases being recorded across the country.
Tuesday’s postponement of schools’ re-opening was a continuation of the delay in commencement of learning activities in schools after the Government recently instituted the measures.
In a wide ranging interview with The Manica Post on the sidelines of the Vision of Primary and Secondary Education (VOPSE) launch at Mt Melleray Primary School in Nyanga on Monday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Ambassador Cain Mathema said there is need to realign the school calendar to suit the current situation.
“Let us have an open mindset. Nobody knows when this pandemic will end. We have to find solutions and find ways of living with this pandemic, while making sure that we protect our kids, our teachers and the nation at large.
“In the 1980s,l remember people were scared to interact with HIV positive people. The public thought that HIV was capable of flying in the air and infecting them. However, with the passage of time we learnt to live with HIV and Aids.
“This is the same thing going on. It has to start in the home. Parents should make sure no child leaves the home without a mask. The truth is that we do not know when this pandemic will come to an end. We therefore cannot have a situation where our children do not go to school forever,” said Minister Mathema.
“However, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education does not operate in a vacuum. We give our input and other line ministries such as the Ministry of Health and Child Care also chip in with theirs to come up with the best position for the country,” he said.
Last year, schools were re-opened after a safe environment had been created in the learning institutions.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Health and Child Care developed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that were dispatched to all schools.
The SOPs, which were developed in adherence to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on controlling the spread of the pandemic, provide guidelines on how schools can safely operate during this era.
Basic requirements for schools’ re-opening include adequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, liquid soap and sanitisers for both the pupils and teachers; infra-red thermometers for temperature checks; hand washing stations at every strategic place; fumigation of the school premises and physical distancing markings in the classrooms and other places where learners assemble.
Each school is also required to provide evidence of linkage with a health centre.
In addition, the SOPs require the schools to appoint school health coordinators whose duty is to manage minor health related cases at school level.