Zimbabwe to gradually re-open schools from October 26

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HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe will gradually re-open primary and secondary schools from Oct. 26 for all pupils, ending a break of seven months that was precipitated by the coronavirus outbreak, the information minister said on Tuesday.

The government had earlier this month said only students who are taking their final examinations would return to school.

Tuesday’s announcement by information minister Monica Mutsvangwa came after teachers unions said their members would boycott classes to press authorities to pay them a COVID-19 risk allowance and a pay rise.

Mutsvangwa said the first group of primary and secondary pupils would go back to class on Oct. 26 while the rest would follow on Nov.9.

Unions say that the government has not put enough measures in schools to combat COVID-19 and that they were not consulted on the re-opening schedule.

Since schools closed in March to curb the spread of coronavirus, only pupils from the most wealthy families — those sending their children to private schools or with access to the internet — would have received any online lessons.

Zimbabwe has recorded 7,706 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 226 deaths.