COVID-19 decline rate, likely to result in opening of schools

ZIMBABWE’s COVID-19 recovery rate continues to improve which may spell the imminent opening of schools for the first term to the joy of thousands of learners whose studies have been disrupted since the outbreak of the global pandemic.

As of Wednesday, the recovery rate stood at 94 percent and the daily figure for new COVID-19 cases has dropped to an average of 160 down thousands which were being recorded during the end of last year.

Concerned parents and guardians said the overstretched school holidays were affecting them as they are forced to conduct online lessons while those in rural areas say their children are slowly losing interest in school.

Teachers on the other hand say these delays are directly linked to delays in the release of Grade Seven public examination results which the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (Zimsec) says may be out in a week or so.

Zandile Nyoni from Esigodini said the continued closure of schools was exposing learners to destructive activities as some were pregnant and others doing illegal mining.

“We are now tired of these continued school calendar disruptions because our children have lost interest and it will take effort to take them back when schools finally open. In other countries with more cases and deaths, schools have remained open but here we are still stuck with these lockdown measures that are not even effective,” she said.

“Our youths are now into gold panning while some girls have been married off while waiting for schools. We hope that this year things will flow because we cannot continue like this, we need schools to open because we cannot afford fancy gadgets and data for our children to access online lessons.”

One of the teachers from Lupane, Gabriella Sithole said the opening of schools was dependent on the release of Grade Seven results and the welfare of teachers who are expecting review in their salaries.

“We know that the closure has nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic per se but Grade Seven results and public examinations which finish next week. As teachers we are also waiting to hear what the Government is deciding on our salaries, we will not be able to go and teach whilst we have no means,” she said.

Meanwhile, Zimsec has dismissed false social media claims that 2021 Grade Seven results are out. According to the viral message which has made rounds on social media, examination centre heads were to collect the results from Zimsec Regional offices from the 26th of January 2022 (Wednesday).

One of the messages also read that: “Bulawayo does not have a school in the top 40, the 10 worst schools with a zero percent pass rate are in Matabeleland region and that 88 schools countrywide recorded a 0 percentage pass rate.”

During the just-ended festive season, the Government applauded Zimbabweans for their resilience in the face of COVID-19, urging everyone to remain vigilant and continue following expert advice to register total victory against the global pandemic.

Last year, the Government succeeded in putting in place adequate measures informed by World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, to ensure schools reopen safely.

So far examination classes have reopened to complete their public examinations which they started in 2021.

ENDS

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