by Grace Chekai
Students sitting for their June examinations country-wide which started today and employees of learning institutions which have opened their doors to students have been encouraged to leave the institutions as soon as classes or work is completed as a measure to minimise the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at a media brief yesterday after the national COVID-19 taskforce meeting, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa said Ministries of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education will observe their plans and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the prevention and management of COVID-19 at all learning institutions.
“Students and employees will be encouraged to leave the institutions as soon as classes or work is completed for the day. These measures will be enforced by College security officials who patrol institution campuses at all senior staff and tutors.
“No sporting activities are to be conducted at all institutions and institutions are mandated to be fumigated prior to re-opening,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She further highlighted that, all Tertiary Education institutions are required to have one or, at most two, entrances to the entire institution adding that all students and staff entering and exiting the institutions are required to go through screening.
The Minister emphasised that institution shall ensure students and employees are educated on the symptoms and the measures to take if COVID-19 symptoms manifest.
On the issue of social distancing at the institutions, the Minister said, “A capacity utilization chart shall be provided to Ministry of Tertiary Education Compliance Inspectors, satisfactorily adjusted to ensure that all classrooms observe and maintain acceptable physical distancing.
“Depending on student volumes, timetables may have to be adjusted to ensure an even wider spread of students.
The Minister revealed that the SOPs were crafted in line with the Health School Policy to guide the conduct of school business in a safe and healthy environment for all.
Minister Mutsvangwa noted that the list of requirements will be updated depending on the nature of the public health pandemic at any time, urging citizens to adhere to World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines in the fight against the deadly disease.
“My fellow Zimbabweans, as our positive cases rise, let us not become lax thinking that this virus is limited to returnees. We have to be vigilant and work collectively. Protective and Preventative measures are there to assist us in combating COVID-19.
“Let us stay safe out there, minimize movement, sanitize and wash our hands, and observe social distancing,” she said.
To date, Zimbabwe’s coronavirus cases have risen to 574 after 7 more people tested positive for the virus yesterday. The Ministry of Health and Child Care announced that of the new cases, four are local, while two and one, in that order, are returnees from South Africa and Botswana.