Zambia receives mixed reactions on school opening decision amid COVID-19

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The decision by the Zambian government to reopen some examination classes in schools amid the COVID-19 has received mixed reactions from stakeholders.

In March, the government closed schools as part of efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic.

However, in his national address Friday, President Edgar Lungu said examination classes in both secondary and primary should reopen on June 1 on condition that schools enforce all public health guidelines, regulations and certifications.

He directed the health and education authorities to ensure that face masks, hand washing soaps and sanitizers are prioritized to all schools and health centers, starting with those in examination classes.

People have reacted differently to the announcement, with some welcoming it while others have said the government should have waited a little longer.

“I am excited that my child is going to resume classes. We were really worried when our children stopped attending classes. We commend the president for the gesture,” said Sharon Bwalya, 30-year-old Lusaka resident.

She noted that the announcement was good although she was quick to point out that the health of her children came first.

Charity Zimba, who is the examination class at Olympia High School in Lusaka said she cannot wait for June 1 to come so that she can resume classes. She said she is excited about the prospect of resuming classes after two months of just staying at home.

The National Action for Quality Education in Zambia, a lobby group also welcomed the decision with caution.

Aaron Chansa, the organization’s executive directive said his organization was in support of the decision because it is not clear when the pandemic will end.

He, however, urged the government to distribute masks to all pupils and teachers as well as daily screenings to ensure that the schools were safe.

The Zambia National Union of Teachers described the move as a bold decision.

The union has however called for mandatory testing of pupils and a 14-day mandatory quarantine before they report for lessons.

According to the union, the move, if not well managed, can result in schools becoming epicenters of the pandemic.

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