The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu and Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporters
SCHOOLS will remain open until the end of the term on 17 December despite a resurgence of Covid-19 that has seen numbers of new cases rising.
Some universities have, however, reportedly stopped face-to-face lectures as a way of controlling the spread of the pandemic.
National public examinations are already underway and there were fears that the rise in new cases and detection of a new variant will force authorities to stop the exams or at least close once Grade Seven examinations that started last week are done on Friday.
However, Director of Communication and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro told Sunday News yesterday that despite the latest surge in cases of Covid-19, there were no plans to close the schools early.
“This term still ends on 17 December, we are not planning to close early, teachers, pupils and parents must not panic. Exams are also progressing well and we have not had any incidences related to Covid-19.”
Teachers also said there was no need to close schools prematurely and urged Government to ensure that the school calendar is not disturbed.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said despite the increase in cases, schools were not the only institutions affected.
However, some universities have reportedly told students that they will suspend face to face lectures and finish the rest of the semesters through online learning. Lupane State University marketing and communications director Mr Zwelithini Dlamini said lectures at the institution have ended, but it was mainly to do with exams that start tomorrow.
He said throughout the whole examinations process they will be working with the ministry to ensure that everything goes accordingly.
Mr Dlamini said as students arrive at the main campus tomorrow, they will be tested for Covid-19 before they sit for the examinations.
“Officials from the Ministry of Health and Child Care are already on the ground waiting for the arrival of the students so that they test them in preparation of the exams.”
Great Zimbabwe University director for information and public relations Mr Anderson Chipatiso said lectures were ongoing and they will be monitoring the situation to assess if there is a need to suspend the lectures.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr John Mangwiro told Sunday News that citizens can start getting the booster shot immediately.
“People can go where they got their first two jabs, if they got Sinovac, they need a third jab of Sinovac now, it’s starting now, the programme has started. Of course there may be delays as logistics get into place,” he said.
Dr Mangwiro said those that intend on getting the booster jab need to present identity particulars.
“They carry their cards, all that they carried with them when they went for the first and second jab, they should carry them now also. There is nothing difficult,” he said.
Dr Mangwiro, however, said the booster jab was going to be administered mainly to frontline workers and other essential and vulnerable populations.
“It’s is mainly for frontline workers, like journalists, health workers, the elderly, those with hypertension, cancer, HIV, asthma and the likes, those are the ones who can go right away.
“Those who work in shops, shopkeepers and supermarkets, those who meet a lot of people should go for the booster jab quickly,” he said.
President Mnangagwa said getting a booster jab was a way of strengthening immunity of the populations and assured the nation that there were enough vaccines for all those who wanted the third shot.
As of 3 December 2021, Zimbabwe had recorded 1 062 new cases of the virus with one death reported. Many cases have been reported at institutions of higher learning across the country.
So far 3 844 394 people have received the first dose while 2 864 851 have received the second.
Despite the surge of new cases across the world, especially of the new variant Omicron, the World Health Organisation on Friday said no one has died from the new variant in all the 38 countries where it has been detected.
Zimbabwe announced last week that the new variant has been detected in the country.