By A Correspondent- Government has banned in school holiday lessons to contain the spread of COVID-19 and ensure containment measures are put in place before learners return for the second term.
Schools are set to close for a three-week break on Friday next week before lessons resume on June 28.
The ban, observers said, was likely to affect students who spent the better part of last year at home due to successive COVID-19 lockdowns.
In a circular to school heads, district and provincial education inspectors and directors and teachers’ unions, Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela said government had not sanctioned in-school holiday lessons as a COVID-19 containment measure.
“This notice serves to advise all primary and secondary schools that in-person holiday lessons for first term holiday have not been authorised in view of the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need for containment measures to be put in place,” Thabela said in the circular dated May 26, 2021.
Several schools have been battling COVID-19 outbreaks since the beginning of the first term with the recent being Goldridge College in Kwekwe and Sacred Heart secondary and primary schools in Esigodini.
There were claims early this week that a teacher at Bulawayo’s government-run Khumalo Primary School succumbed to COVID-19.
Cabinet on Tuesday said over 837 COVID-19 positive cases had been detected in schools since opening in March, 2021.
“Heads of schools are encouraged to fully embrace the concept of blended/hybrid education services provision through adapting alternative open and distance learning strategies (inclusive of technology based and modularised options),” Thabela added.
This is despite the fact that online learning and radio lessons failed to bridge the gap owing to the digital divide and lack of enabling telecommunications infrastructure in some remote areas, resulting in rural learners losing out on lessons.
In September 2020, the Education ministry announced standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the prevention, early detection and control of COVID-19.
These include consistent and proper wearing of clean masks, physical and social distancing, regular and correct hand-washing of hands.
Sports activities are also banned, hot-seating is discouraged, while a maximum of 35 learners per class and frequent disinfection of classrooms is encouraged.