PRIMARY and Secondary Education deputy minister Edgar Moyo yesterday said the government is working hard to avoid a repeat of last year’s situation where 500 learners contracted the lethal Covid-19 virus.
This comes as cases at Prince Edward High School and Dove Secondary School in Mberengwa have prompted authorities to deploy teams from the ministries of Health and Education to carry out investigations.
The country has so far recorded 46 confirmed new Covid-19 cases involving learners, educators and non-teaching staff in Harare and Mberengwa after schools opened for face-to-face lessons on March 15.
In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Moyo said the government is making sure that schools follow World Health Organisation (WHO) regulations.
“We are hopeful that last year’s situation will not repeat itself. We are doing our best to make sure students continue learning. We want schools to limit the spread of Covid-19.
“This is a national issue and it must not be isolated. We must work together to make sure that our learners are safe,” Moyo said.
The deputy minister said the government was facing a number of challenges in ensuring learners are safe from the virus.
“We know that infrastructure is not adequate. We have reduced the number of students so that they are not crowded in one classroom. Social distancing is difficult for kids, but it must be followed.
“We are working hard to make sure the regulations are followed, but at the same time we do not want to disadvantage learners. Let’s remain resolute.
“We can defeat this war against Covid-19 so that our children continue with their education,” Moyo said.
The latest Covid-19 cases to hit schools were first reported at Prince Edward last week when seven learners returned positive results after undergoing tests at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.
A total of 32 Prince Edward learners are currently quarantined, while the staff members are self-isolating at home.
Last week, the national chief Covid-19 co-ordinator in President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Office, Agnes Mahomva, said Health and Education ministries teams would establish if schools across the country were following the government’s standard operating procedures.
“The two ministries are on the ground, in the trenches as we speak, to establish what is happening and find out if they (schools) are following the guidelines.
“We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in schools and anywhere else for that matter.
“The ministries of Health and Education were tasked by the national Covid-19 taskforce to work together in investigating and strengthening any gaps that might be there,” Mahomva said.
Prior to reports of the new wave of Covid-19 cases in schools, teachers’ unions had raised the flag about the lack of preparedness by many schools to open for the first time this year.
Last year, about 500 pupils were infected with Covid-19 at various schools — including John Tallach in Bulawayo and Chinhoyi High School in Mashonaland West.