Schools today reopen for non-examination classes for the long second and final term of 75 teaching days for these classes, without exeat weekends, and with temporary holding and sick bays set up at most boarding schools in anticipation of any positive case.
Schools closed prematurely on June 4 as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Examination classes comprising Grade 7, Form Four and Upper Six opened last week while today all non-examination classes will begin.
Boarders left yesterday, while day scholars will report for classes today.
Ahead of reopening today, parents and guardians accompanied boarders for the four non-examination high school forms to collection points where their schools sent buses.
Some parents could be seen doing last-minute shopping before seeing off their children or getting ready for school runs this morning.
Most parents and guardians said they were happy their children were going back to learn after a long holiday, but at the same time sighed over an increase in school fees and high uniform prices.
Mr Tinashe Dzapasi of Harare said parents were not given enough time to prepare.
“We are happy that finally children have returned to school. The situation could have been better if school fees was not increased or if parents were allowed to have payment plans,” he said.
Government schools do allow payment plans for fees and levies, but most non-Government schools have asked for all fees upfront.
Mr Lewis Kusema said due to lockdown, some parents were facing challenges and the short notice for the opening of schools dealt them a huge blow.
Pupils in Harare converged at the Harare Showgrounds, Mbare Musika and the open space near the Harare Magistrates’ Courts in Abdel Gamal Nasser Road awaiting transport.
They were sanitised before boarding the buses.
In Midlands, it was a hive of activity at every school as pupils could be seen in long queues while checking in with their schools.
At Regina Mundi High preference was given to pupils with no arrears.
Pupils with parents in arrears could be seen milling outside the gate while those with their fees slips were being checked in after going through all Covid-19 protocols.
At Thornhill High, pupils had started queueing at the school gate for Covid-19 checks as early as 7am.
Parents told The Herald that they faced transport challenges to get their children back to school.
“Transport is a big challenge. We had to hire a Zupco omnibus as parents to take the kids to St Patricks High School in Chiwundura,” said a parent, Mr Ishmael Goromondo.
In Mashonaland West, boarding schools received pupils yesterday with a call from Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi who has been deployed by the Cabinet to periodically assess the Covid-19 pandemic calling the schools to screen the students through testing to avoid a spike in the cases.
He said this during an inter-ministerial task force on Covid-19 meeting in which most provincial Government departments presented their progress, challenges and recommendations regarding the fight against the deadly pandemic.
A visit by The Herald at Chinhoyi High and Sinoia Primary Schools showed at least 85 percent of pupils turned up for the final term.
Disinfection of dormitories was being done while pupils and their guardians were checked for temperature and sanitised.
Provincial education director Mr Gabriel Mhumha said the Government had supplied knapsack sprays for easy disinfection with Makonde District having received 178.
Temporary holding and sick bays were set up at most boarding schools in case of any positive case.
Human traffic was high in Chinhoyi town as parents made last-minute shopping for uniforms, groceries and stationery with most shops open.
In Masvingo it was a hectic day for parents and boarders as they scrambled for last minute shopping and return to their schools ahead of today’s resumption of learning by non-exam classes.
Masvingo City was a hive of activity yesterday as parents took children to boarding schools mostly using school buses, private cars and hired vehicles.
At the schools visited by The Herald such as Victoria High School, Pamushana High and Edrovale High schools returning pupils had to adhere to strict Covid-19 regulations upon entry into premises.
Victoria High School imposed temperature tests and getting sanitised as part of precautionary measures before entering hall’s of residence.
In Mashonaland Central parents made last minute shopping for the opening of schools. Vendors made a killing yesterday as they took advantage of the shops that had closed, even selling selling school uniforms and stationery.
Parents complained of the short notice which they said affected their preparations as they had to run around for fees and uniforms.
Mrs Maria Mabeteya told the Herald that her children had outgrown uniforms during the holiday and she did not have enough money to pay fees and buy new uniforms. “I am still running around so things can be in order by end of this week,” she said.
It was a hive of activity at most shops in Beitbridge with parents in last minute rush to prepare for the opening of non-examination classes today.
Stationery, hand sanitisers, face masks, and nonperishable groceries topped the list of the items that were being bought at most shops.
By late afternoon yesterday, most buses had left with boarding school pupils to their learning institutions.
A few parents were seen hiking to Masvingo and Bulawayo.