BY BLESSED MHLANGA GOVERNMENT has announced a three-phased plan for the reopening of schools, with the last group — ECD, grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and forms 1 and 2 — resuming classes on November 9 after an almost six-month-long COVID-19-induced break. In a post-Cabinet media briefing yesterday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the decision to reopen schools was informed by the drop in COVID-19 cases. “Cabinet is pleased to announce that Cambridge examination centres reopened successfully on September 14, and no health incidents were reported. In light of the high level of preparedness in the education sector, schools will be reopened in a phased manner. Phase 1 will open on September 28, this will entail Grade 7, forms 4 and 6. Phase 2 will open on October 26 and will involve Grade 6, forms 3 and 5, and Phase 3 will open on November 9, 2020 covering the rest of the learners,” she said. Government said it would limit the number of learners to 30 per class in line with global COVID-19 containment regulations. Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema said pupils would also have to take turns to go to school so as to keep their numbers manageable. Government also moved to increase the number of congregants from 30 to 100 per sitting. “Taking into cognisance that Zimbabwe is largely a religious nation, Cabinet has revised upwards the gatherings for churches from 50 to 100. Government nonetheless appeals to churches to ensure that congregants continue to observe COVID-19 containment measures by enforcing the compulsory proper wearing of masks, practising social distancing and washing hands,” Mutsvangwa said. Cabinet also announced plans to build a US$1 million production plant to manufacture vehicle registration plates locally to reduce the import bill and ensure regular supply. “The project aims to ensure industrial scale manufacturing of number plates and enable citizens to access the same at affordable cost,” Mutsvangwa said.