The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 has announced that all schools will reopen on Monday February 22 2021 after a five-week break.
Minister of Health Khumbize Chiponda, who is also co-chair of the task force, made the announcement yesterday during the daily Covid-19 updates, saying the schools are now in a position to re-open.
She said the Ministry of Education has been provided with K5billion from a new K17 billion allocation for Covid-19 fight, urging schools to put in place the necessary measures to ensure a conducive environment for both learners and teachers.
On January 17, President Lazarus Chakwera ordered the closure of schools for three weeks following a sharp rise in new Covid-19 infections. The closure was later extended by two weeks.
Chiponda yesterday justified the extension, saying: “Some teachers that were found positive needed to recover; hence the longer period for closure of schools . We wanted to ensure that both learners and teachers are not at risk.”
She added that some schools will demand Covid-19 certificates for learners and asked parents and guardians to comply.
The minister also said learners that have tested positive should undergo treatment and be allowed back in school after recovery.
On her part, Minister of Education Agnes NyaLonje said her ministry has provided schools with masks, soap and other items to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
She said the ministry plans to use the K5 billion allocation to drill 650 boreholes in primary and secondary schools to ensure the educational facilities have potable water for sanitation.
Said NyaLonje: “Of the 650 boreholes, 400 will be drilled in primary school while 240 will be in secondary schools. The ministry also plans to procure tents to decongest classes. About K384.6million will go towards that.
“To ease pressure on teachers, government has recruited 2 275 auxiliary teachers. Government also plans to change the school calendar and we will soon communicate the changes.”
The opening of schools comes after Independent Schools Association of Malawi (Isama) wrote the Ministry of Health that the number of Covid-19 cases were on the decline.
In a letter dated February 15, signed by Isama president Joseph Patel, the association pledged that once opened, the schools will adhere to Covid-19 preventive measures.
Reads the letter in part: “The more we keep learners at home, the more they are disadvantaged as some will end up going into early marriages and some getting unwanted pregnancies. We might end up building a cohort of people who would never love education.”
In an interview yesterday, Civil Society Education Coalition executive director Benedicto Kondowe said government should ensure that schools create a sustainable safe environment for learners to avoid further closures.