(Reuters) – Zimbabwe has postponed the re-opening of schools planned for next week, the government said on Wednesday, due to a surge in coronavirus infections and a tropical storm sweeping through the region.
The government had set Jan. 4 as the date to re-open primary and secondary schools, after many students missed class for much of last year as the country tried to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Zimbabwe has recorded more than 13,000 cases of COVID-19 and 359 deaths. Daily cases have averaged more than 100 this week, compared to less than 50 last month.
A teachers’ union earlier petitioned the courts to stop the re-opening of schools, saying it was not safe for students to return to class.
Tumisang Thabela, secretary for the ministry of primary and secondary education said the surge in infections and the threat from tropical storm Chalane, expected to hit Zimbabwe from Mozambique, had forced the postponement of the new term.
“The date for the commencement of the 2021 school calendar for all primary and secondary schools will be announced in due course as the government monitors the situation,” Thabela said in a statement.
Since March, pupils have only had a few weeks of classes, if any, as schools offered a staggered reopening from September, with students studying for public exams a priority.
With internet access limited, online learning is confined only to the richest families.