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By ALICE NACHILEMBE
Government says that only examination classes and those that need critical catch-up will reopen on Thursday August 5, 2021.
Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga has clarified that reopening of some classes was in line with Government earlier announcement to open schools by August 16, 2021 but subject to inspection.
Mr Malupenga said Government has taken advantage of the improving Covid-19 statistics and begun the gradual reopening of schools to ensure that learners complete their curriculum in time for the next academic year.
Speaking at a joint media briefing with his counterparts from the Ministries of General Education, Health and the Office of the Vice President yesterday, Mr Malupenga emphasised that pre and primary schools except grade seven classes will remain closed.
He also said that at the moment, grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 classes will resume for boarding secondary schools, while for day secondary schools only grades 9, 11 and 12 will be allowed back in school.
“In the on-going gradual reopening of schools, priority has been given to examination classes and critical classes that needed to quickly catch-up having lost a lot of time when schools were abruptly closed,” Mr. Malupenga said.
Mr Malupenga said while the reopening of some classes has come earlier than expected, there was need for parents and school authorities to appreciate that Government has done this in the best interest of the pupils.
He said Government has taken note of the concerns from some parents but that under the circumstances, the inconvenience, much as it was regrettable, was also was inevitable especially considering the significant improvements in the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“You will recall that Government initially announced the reopening of Schools by 16th August, 2021. However, we have been informed by Health experts and inspectors that things are looking better now and that most schools are ready to commence classes. All we are now doing is taking advantage of this positive trend so that our children can go back to school and continue learning,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Mr Malupenga clarified that 12th August, which is the voting day, is a none-working day.
“Voting is only for a day and so pupils will stay away on that particular day and continue their classes on Friday. Similarly, teachers participating in the electoral process will still do their work. Remember 12th August, 2021 is not a working day,” he said.
At the same media briefing, General Education Permanent Secretary Dr Jobbicks Kalumba announced that the remainder of the second term will run from 5th August to the 27th of September, 2021 while the third term will begin on 28th September and will run till 10th December, 2021.
Dr Kalumba said the new calendar is expected to be adhered to by both private and public schools.
He also announced that no parent will be expected to pay any school fees when classes resume on 5th August, 2021.
Dr Kalumba explained that this is because at the time schools closed, pupils had remained with a total of 7 weeks to complete their second term.
He said parents will only be expected to pay school fees once the third term which will commence on the 28th September, 2021 is in effect.
And Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kennedy Malama said it is not Government policy that learners and teachers in public and private schools should produce a negative Covid-19 certificate to report to school.
Dr Malama has advised school authorities to liaise with District and Provincial Health Directors for clarification regarding operations on surveillance of Covid-19 and how learners can be screened.