Malawian President announces plans to reopen schools in September

A picture showing a young girl during a home class lesson in Blantyre, Malawi, on Aug. 6, 2020. (Xinhua/Joseph Mizere)
FILE: Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera.PHOTO/AFP

Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has announced the government’s plans to reopen schools early September, despite a surge in COVID-19 cases.

In his weekly national address Saturday evening President Chakwera said only schools that meet the government’s safety standards on coronavirus prevention will be allowed to reopen. But health experts warn of further spread of the disease should the schools fail to put up necessary measures to contain the spread.

Malawi’s government announced the indefinite closure of schools on March 20 before the country registered its first three cases of COVID-19, on April 2.

According to Chakwera, the decision to reopen the schools stems from strides Malawi is making in its fight against COVID-19.

‘’although the number of those who have been found with the virus has now passed 5,000, only 5% have gotten sick enough to need hospitalization. Even among the 389 health workers, who have contracted the virus, we have lost only once and the rest are in recovery.”, he says

The move to reopen schools is an apparent response to a request from education activists who last week met Chakwera and told him the closure of schools was jeopardizing the future of students, especially girls.

They cited hundreds of girls across the country who have fallen pregnant and others getting married since the schools closed.

Earlier last week, the Ministry of Health announced guidelines for school authorities to follow once schools are reopened.

These include temperature checks, documentation of persistent cough or shortness of breath, and routine documentation of students from families affected by COVID-19.

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