Parent visiting days remain banned: Government

Source: Parent visiting days remain banned: Government | Sunday News (local news)

Sunday News Reporters
PARENTS and guardians remain banned from visiting learners at boarding schools as Covid-19 prevention protocols remain in place.

This comes ahead of the opening of schools tomorrow. Health officials in the country have been calling on people to remain vigilant as fresh cases of the pandemic continue to be recorded.

A new variant of the Covid-19 virus, XBB, which is a sub lineage of the Omicron variant has been detected in more than 80 countries with Botswana having detected cases towards the end of last year.


The Ministry of Health and Child Care cordoned off boarding schools in 2021 from visitors during the term as the bulk of Covid-19 infections were recorded at the institutions.

Traditionally, boarding schools have set visiting days during the term where learners can be visited by their families and interact for a day. However, following the increase of infections within boarding schools the Ministry stopped the visits and has not allowed parents to visit their children since then.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has emphasised that nothing will change relating to the ban as the national Covid-19 protocols are still effective.

“Covid-19 protocols are still in place in our schools. We follow national Covid-19 guidelines,” said the Ministry’s director of communications and advocacy, Mr Taungana Ndoro in a telephone interview yesterday.

Ministry of Health and Child Care

In 2021 the Government also reduced intakes at boarding schools as a preventative measure to allow learners to learn and live in a safe environment where social distancing was possible.

Schools were prohibited from taking additional learners outside the permissible numbers in a bid to contain the situation.
Cabinet last year opened schools in compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) of the Prevention and Management of Covid-19 as well as other Influenza like illnesses. The SOPs are minimum terms of operation that are set to ensure schools operate in a safe environment without risking a spike in new infections.

Handshakes, hugs and sharing of desks were prohibited and still remain prohibited in schools while classroom occupancy was reduced to 35 learners per classroom to cater for social distancing. Learners have been sanitising as they enter the premises of their schools and masking up to ensure there is no spread of the virus.

Zimbabwean Exemption Permits (ZEP)

Zimbabwe is likely to have an influx of returnees from South Africa following the June 2023 deadline for holders of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEP).

Mr Ndoro said those returning with children of school going age have been assured that the education system will absorb the learners as long as they show proof of schooling in the neighbouring country.

“We have systems in place in our sector to assess the level of learners from other countries so that we place them in appropriate levels or grades. That has been going on for a long time. So, the affected children from South Africa are most welcome to our sector,” he said.

Meanwhile, stationery and uniform shops in Bulawayo and beyond were a hive of activity in the past few days as parents and guardians made last-minute preparations for their children ahead of schools opening for the first term tomorrow.

Parents, however, bemoaned the high prices of essential school materials, saying in the past few days there has been a sudden increase of prices of exercise books, rulers, mathematical instruments, plastic covers as well as clothing items, shoes, trunks and uniforms.

Most shoppers who spoke to Sunday News bemoaned the high prices.
they implored the Government to intervene and ensure that stationery and uniform shops do not wantonly increase prices ahead of schools opening.

A snap survey around reputable shops that sell school wear revealed that girls’ uniforms range from US$22 to US$32 and boys’ from US$18 to US$33. A pair of girls’ school shoes costs between US$12 and US$18 while a pair of shoes for boys were going for between US$10 and US$15.

A pack of 10 – 72-page exercise books costs between US$7 and US$10 in some retail shops while for the same items vendors were charging between US$5 and US$7.

Most parents have resorted to buying from informal traders who charge relatively lower prices compared to most formal shops where uniforms for different sizes for girls’ and boys’ were between US$8 and US$15 and US$10 and US$15 respectively.

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