Phased opening for schools in January


SCHOOLS will open in two phases for the 2021 first term, with the first classes resuming lessons first week of January after Government declared that recent sporadic outbreaks of Covid-19 in schools had been contained.

All classes, with the exception of Form One and Five learners, will commence learning on January 4, with this year’s Ordinary Level examination candidates resuming their exam sittings the following day.

Form One and Five classes will return to school in February after Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) has released their results.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said all pupils will be in school by February.

“We recently issued statements to school heads regarding when schools will be opened,” said Ambassador Mathema.

“I have submitted the calendar to Cabinet and I can tell you that by February all students will be in school.”

The Ministry’s spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro said public examinations will resume after the festive season holiday break.

“Students in Grade One to Seven, Form Two up to Four and Upper Sixth learners will be back in school on January 4,” said Mr Ndoro.

“Form Fours sitting for their examinations will go back to school on January 5.

“Form One students will open on February 9 next year, this is to enable marking of their examinations and to ensure parents secure places for their children.

“Lower Sixth students will have to wait for their O’Level results to be released.”

Advanced Level and Grade Seven candidates started writing examinations on December 1 and 3 respectively and will finish this week.

Ordinary Level candidates will break on December 18 before resuming sitting for their last papers on January 5.

Outbreaks under control

Mr Ndoro said the number of Covid-19 cases reported in schools recently had significantly dropped.

Over 300 pupils, teachers and staff have tested positive to Covid-19 at nearly 30 schools countrywide in recent weeks, prompting fears of a widespread outbreak.

“The Ministry was in the Matabeleland provinces assessing the situation in schools that had students who were infected with the Covid-19,” said Mr Ndoro.

“At John Tallach 184 students out of 185 have been cleared and at Chinhoyi all 72 cases have been cleared and this is very encouraging.

“We are yet to receive statistics from the other schools that were affected.”

In her weekly Covid-19 update on Friday, chief coordinator of the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Dr Agnes Mahomva said outbreaks in schools had been contained.

“Reports from monitoring support and supervision visits indicate that the situation in our schools is now under control,” said Dr Mahomva.

“Government is grateful to parents in the affected schools for not only being cooperative during the outbreak, but for also remaining very calm and very supportive during the investigations and implementation of the recommendations.

“Government would also like to thank the teachers and other school authorities who stepped up to ensure that the situation was brought under control in a very timely fashion.”

Exams progress

Zimsec board chairperson Professor Eddie Mwenje said the public examinations body would prioritise marking of Grade Seven papers to allow parents adequate time to secure Form One places for their children.

“We will be marking Grade Seven papers first and we are hoping that they will be released around mid-January,” said Prof Mwenje.

“Zimsec is also coming up with strategies that will be used to ensure that all work is done as soon as possible. We will only be in position to give these strategies when we have sat down and deliberated next week. We understand that there are students who want to proceed to tertiary institutions, some want to go to Lower Sixth and to Form One, so we will try to fast-track the process.”