By Albert Nxumalo
Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has spent more than $500 000 on COVID-19 consumables at its 29 primary schools which have reopened for the third term, a council report shows.
Among items purchased include sanitizers and infra-red thermometers.
Schools have reopened after a hiatus caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that broke out in March 2020, starting with final examination classes notably Grade Seven, Form Four and Upper Six.
These three classes are sitting for their Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) exams that should start on December 1, 2020.
Director of Housing and Community Services Dictor Khumalo told the Health, Housing and Education committee that resources have been set aside in preparations for safe re-opening of schools.
“Form Five are to open in the second phase in October 26, 2020 and after that on November 9, 2020 when everyone else goes back to school that is ECD A and B, Grades One to Five, Forms One and Two.”
To step up the level of preparedness, the report said the school heads have been granted authority to utilise the 3rd term Sports and Textbook levy remittances amounting to $457 686 towards purchases of the required Covid-19 materials.
The report added that schools were continuing with the procurement in liaison and with coordination from the parent ministry so as to avoid duplication of activities.
The report added that Covid-19 regulations such as social distancing will be observed in classes.
“Marking for social distancing is in progress in most schools. Each class was expected to accommodate not more around 20 learners,” he said.
However, due to on-going water shortages, boreholes at schools are being rehabilitated by various donors through the Engineering Services Department.
Regular washing of hands has been recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an effective way to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has indicated that ZWL$654 million is being used to procure Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for learners and teachers.
The ministry released guidelines to be followed by all schools under Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
According to the guidelines, break and lunch time have been staggered to prevent crowding of learners while sporting activities have also been banned.
Schools are now required to keep records for teachers and pupils with underlying conditions without stigmatising them.
A maximum of 35 pupils are allowed in a single classroom as learners and teachers will be required to maintain a physical or social distance of one metre in the school premises.
It is also a requirement for temperature checks to be conducted with schools now mandated to have temporary isolation rooms for those found with high temperatures before they are referred to health facilities.