Senior Health Reporter
The Covid-19 situation in most schools has started to normalise with learners now back in classrooms following a spike in cases over the last month.
Over 500 learners and staff from Sacred Heart High School, Embakwe High, St David’s Girls High (Bonda) and most recently, George Silundika Secondary School, tested positive prompting Government to put in place measures to curb the further spread within the institutions and surrounding communities.
St David’s Girls High recorded 145 cases among students and staff while Embakwe had 91, Sacred Heart reported 230 cases Prince Edward had five and George Silundika had 44 cases.
Following the spike, the Ministry of Health and Child Care embarked on a drive to test and vaccinate members in the localities.
The Ministry also partnered with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to intensify enforcement of the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) in all schools.
The SOPs prohibit hugs, handshakes and sharing of desks in schools, while break and lunch time are staggered to prevent crowding.
Sporting activities have been banned and classrooms are only allowed to accommodate a maximum of 35 pupils to allow for social distancing.
At Bonda, the Anglican Diocese of Manicaland CPCA confirmed that most of the affected students have recovered and are back in class.
Diocesan secretary Reverend Edmond Samutereko said all students who had tested positive were asymptomatic adding that the first group of 142 girls had left isolation on Monday.
“The district team of health personnel had their exit meeting yesterday and they declared all students out of danger. Virtually all students have recovered. We have asked the hospital staff to keep monitoring the situation. Parents and guardians should not panic as the situation is under control,” he said.
“Lessons are now running normally and all students are now allowed to come to school. We are planning to apply for June vacation school for candidates to cover up.”
To further de-congest the school, Rev Samutereko said the school authority was about to complete the construction of a new dormitory to accommodate 60 girls in preparation for the Lower Sixth enrolment and to make sure the girls were accommodated in line with Covid-19 regulations.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema confirmed that the situation was back under control in most of the schools.
He said normal lessons had resumed owing to the measures put in place to deal with the pandemic in schools.
“This is not the first time we are experiencing Covid-19 in schools; it started last year at John Tallach and we managed the outbreak. We have been coming up with measures to control this pandemic in the schools and we are making progress. Everything is now under control at the affected schools and classes are now being conducted without any challenges,” he said.
He said it was imperative that parents and guardians cooperate with school authorities and notify them whenever family members fall ill or succumb to Covid-19 to protect contacts.
“It is not a crime to be affected by Covid-19 and people should not feel the need to hide such information. Parents, guardians, chiefs, councillors and all leaders should work together to identify cases in the community and make sure they are isolated to avoid a spike in cases,” said Minister Mathema.
National Covid-19 Coordinator in the Office of the President Dr Agnes Mahomva said the progress that had been made in curbing the spread of the disease in schools was pleasing.
“We have managed to control the cases in schools and we are happy with the lessons that we have learnt. So far, we have put in place standard operating procedures that are being adhered to. We have also strengthened surveillance systems in schools and this is why we were able to identify and manage the cases,” she said.