The government has gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 210 of 2021 to allow for schools to remain closed until August 10, 2021, pending review of the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Schools were initially scheduled to reopen on the 28th of June for the second term but authorities deferred reopening twice due to the third wave of the coronavirus that is wreaking havoc.
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SI 210 of 2021 was published last Friday, a few days after President Emmerson Mnangagwa extended level 4 lockdown indefinitely, but ordered schools to prepare for reopening.
Under SI 210 of 2021, localised lockdowns in the country’s COVID-19 hotspots – Hurungwe, Kwekwe, Makonde, Bikita, Mutoko, Chiredzi, and Mt Darwin – have also been extended until August 10. Reads the SI:
Notwithstanding any governmental order, instruction or directive to the contrary, every school and other education institution referred to in section 4(1)(e) of the principal order remain closed until August 10, 2021.
The intercity carriage of staff, goods or equipment needed in connection with services or businesses governed by Part IV and V of the order shall not (except in the case of the intercity carriage of staff, goods or equipment needed in connection with the operation of tobacco auction floor as defined in Part IV) be regarded as the carriage of the intercity of staff, goods or equipment needed in connection with an essential service until August 10, 2021.
While presenting the 2021 mid-term budget and economic review in Parliament on Thursday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube said the government was working towards ensuring safe reopening of schools. He said:
In terms of supporting the education sector, schools are opening, I agree. We are supporting the education sector so that we can open schools safely but also parents have a role to play to make sure that children are given masks and the like to support the teachers in whatever is needed, like drilling of boreholes in schools to make sure that there is clean water, we will support that. Also in the interim, support with information communication technology (ICT) radio lessons wherever possible.
Teachers’ unions are against the premature reopening of schools after some educators and learners contracted the virus last term.