A total of 100 students tested positive for COVID-19 at a boarding school in the west of Zimbabwe. The presence of such a high number of infections in the school forced Zimbabwean authorities to close the boarding school.
John Tallach Boarding Secondary School
Schools in Zimbabwe reopened after a seven-month break because of the pandemic. The institutions across the country began reopening in September for end-of-year examinations. The school in Zimbabwe’s Matabeleland North Province was the first institution to report such high numbers of infections. John Tallach boarding Secondary School was also the first to be closed over a cluster of positive cases.
100 Students Out of 600 Infected
On Tuesday, Nick Mangwana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, confirmed the reports of the infections at the boarding Secondary School. Mangwana added that the school has an enrollment of over 600 pupils. Since the revelation of the institution’s high infections, it was sealed off with no one allowed in or out. Zimbabwe’s Cabinet resolved and directed that the school involved should be closed immediately if a similar situation occurs.
The Defence Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri told the Bulawayo-based Chronicle newspaper that the appropriate authorities had the situation under control. The Minister also said that most of the students at John Tallach boarding Secondary School were asymptomatic while the rest had mild symptoms. Mr. Muchinguri-Kashiri, heads the Cabinet’s task-force on COVID-19 in Zimbabwe. No one could reach him for further comment after his report. Local media stations in Zimbabwe reported that out of the 100 students 73 pupils had mild symptoms while 27 were asymptomatic.
Reopening of Learning Institutions in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government ordered the closure of all schools across the country in March as the coronavirus spread. After an extended period, the President announced there would be a phased reopening of schools in September. Students in examination classes would be the first ones returning to learning institutions. Students participating in next year’s examinations would resume after the first ones while the rest of the learners would join them on November 9.
However the President’s order for the resumption of studies for students in examination classes did not sit well with everyone. Teacher’s unions complained that most public schools did not have adequate equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19, which the government denied. Currently, majority of the teachers at public schools have not reported back for duty at learning institutions across Zimbabwe. Some of these educators have given various reasons for not reporting to work, but the primary reason is that they demand a salary hike.
This week the Zimbabwean government sealed a pay deal with the teachers who agreed to a 41 percent salary hike. The pay deal would see the least-paid civil servant earning about 14,500 Zimbabwe dollars (US $177). The lowest-paid teacher, on the other hand, would make a little over 18,000 Zimbabwe dollars.
Authorities in Zimbabwe fear that the country could see a greater surge in infections this month. According to the ministry of health, new cases jumped to 294 from 109 cases in the previous week. Zimbabwe has so far recorded 8,945 COVID-19 cases. The country also recorded 8,116 recoveries, whereas 260 have died due to the virus.