In an interview, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education director of communications and advocacy, Mr Taungana Ndoro, said all teachers were needed back at work as schools opened, even though only examination classes would physically return to school.
All teachers should report for duty on July 28, the date set for the return of examination classes in the phased reopening of schools, and should make arrangements to be at their stations to either teach the examination classes or be able to give alternative learning to the rest of the schoolchildren.
Teachers are expected to attend physical classes at schools, and offer alternative learning to those pupils who will not be physically present by virtue of being non-examination forms.
“Learners who are not physically at school are expected to receive tuition through alternative learning programmes, and so we need all teachers to be engaged in creating learning packages for all their pupils,” said Mr Ndoro.
Only Form Six, Form Four and Grade Seven classes will resume classes on July 28, while Lower Six, Form Three and Grade 6 pupils come in three weeks later.
Other pupils will move back into their classrooms in three more phases.
To allow for a smooth and safe resumption of classes for examination form pupils, the Government has already moved returnees out of school premises being used as quarantine centres to allow full disinfection, and has barred churches from renting school halls and classrooms for services.
Schools are ensuring that they have masks and other necessary protection equipment and can space out desks and have adequate teacher to pupil ratios. With a phased re-opening, early classes can be split if necessary. Mr Ndoro said the ministry was ensuring that risks of infection were kept very low.
The Government recruited 2 300 teachers last month and is in the process of recruiting 3 000 more. The Ministry of Health and Child Care, in light of guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), has set requirements for schools to reopen.
“Some of our schools have taken the initiative to prepare face masks and hand sanitisers on their own,” said Mr Ndoro.
“We are also grateful that the Government has availed funds to the ministry so that schools can acquire, and in some cases produce their own personal protective equipment.”
Dismissing sentiments that rural schools were ill-equipped regarding protection, Mr Ndoro said some of those producing their own protective materials were the rural schools.
“Therefore, come July 28, all schools should be ready to open their doors to their phase one learners,” said Mr Ndoro.
On school fees, and the school calendar, since the traditional second term is already in its twilight, Mr Ndoro clarified that “school fees payments are going to be paid on pro rata (in proportion to the whole) basis, and we expect learners to start paying their fees and levies as soon as learning resumes”.
“We are working on a school calendar which we will share with all our stakeholders in the near future.”