Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is travelling around the country to check on the state of preparedness ahead of the reopening of schools on September 28.

With a week to go before the reopening of schools for examination classes which include Grade 7, Ordinary and Advanced Level examination classes, primary and secondary schools are making final touch-ups to ensure that they meet the World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health and Child Care, coronavirus prevention regulations.

According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education mandatory Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) designed to guide schools as they prepare for reopening — teachers and learners should brace for a new normal ahead of schools reopening and forget customs such as hugs, handshakes and sharing of desks as they used to.

Break and lunch time will be staggered to prevent crowding by learners while sporting activities will be banned when schools reopen for exam-writing classes next Monday.

In the past pupils or teachers who were not feeling well could attend classes but in the new normal this will be prohibited as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has adopted a stay at home policy for those feeling unwell until they recover.

Covid-19 is known to be more deadly to those with underlying conditions, hence schools will now be required to keep records for teachers and pupils with underlying conditions without stigmatising them.

A maximum of 35 pupils will be permitted in a single classroom as learners and teachers will be required to maintain a physical or social distance of one metre at the school premises.

In an interview yesterday, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education director of communications and advocacy, Mr Taungana Ndoro said teams from the head office are going around the country to check on progress made by schools ahead of September 28.

“Yes, we are travelling around the country to do an enumeration of preparedness of schools. There are head office teams just carrying out a verification process of the updates and what is on the ground,” he said.

Mr Ndoro said the ministry is optimistic that preparations were on course riding on the success of the June 2020 exams in which even exams were written at rural schools.

Schools prematurely closed in March and have remained closed as the Government took measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

However, examination classes are expected to reopen on Monday for those sitting for Cambridge examinations while Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) candidates will reopen on September 28.

Zimsec public examinations will start on December 1, as the Government is employing a combination of face-to-face and distance learning to bridge the gap that has seen learners being out of school for five months.

In Gweru, parents and guardians from schools such as Ascot, Mambo Secondary Schools and primary schools such as St Paul’s, Takwirira have sent out notices to parents and guardians for meetings with parents to discuss the reopening and examinations.

Parents said they are fully behind Government’s position to reopen schools for examination classes.

“Most of our children have been going for extra lessons anticipating the reopening of examination classes. The weather is also getting hot and we are happy that the Government planned for the reopening this summer,” said Mr Michael Nkomo from Mkoba 13 suburb.