World, Africa

Eswatini to reopen all schools next week despite virus fears

Country battling 3rd wave but all risks evaluated before deciding to reopen schools closed since March 2020, says premier

Hassan Isilow   | 02.09.2021
Eswatini to reopen all schools next week despite virus fears Prime Minister Cleopas Sipho Dlamin ( Anadolu Agency )

JOHANNESBURG

All schools in Eswatini will reopen starting next week, the government announced on Thursday.

Students of all grades, including preschool, will be back in classes from Sept. 8, with attendance to be on a rotational basis, Prime Minister Cleopas Sipho Dlamini said in a statement.

“Students at all levels lost valuable time since the initial closure of schools in March 2020, when the first positive case in Eswatini was reported. This will have long lasting effects on the future of our children,” he said.

Dlamini acknowledged that the country “has been under the tight grip of the pandemic’s third wave” since June, but said officials evaluated all health risks and took advice from experts before deciding to reopen schools.

“We have had to adapt to a new normal that has disrupted the way of living we are used to. The adverse impact on young generation is immeasurable,” the premier said.

“It can be urged with some degree of justification that children are more at risk outside of school than when they are attending classes.”

He said the government was grateful to teachers and workers who have responded positively to calls to get vaccinated and urged the nation to continue to observe health guidelines.

The tiny Southern African country, formerly known as Swaziland, has reported 43,626 virus cases and 1,112 fatalities so far, according to latest government figures.

Some 162,370 people – 14% of the country’s nearly 1.2 million population – have been fully vaccinated, the data shows.

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