Reports that schools will be reopening on September 2 or 15 September for examination classes are ‘misleading’ and should not be taken seriously as stakeholder consultations are currently underway before Cabinet decides on the matter, the Zimbabwe Government has said.

According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education, the Harare administration is still holding on to its earlier pronouncements on the deferment of schools reopening until further notice.

The ministry also warned that schools that defy the Government directive to remain closed risk being criminally charged for violating current regulations.

“Contrary to misleading social media reports that schools will reopen on 2 September 2020 or 15 September 2020 for examination classes, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education would like to reiterate to its valued stakeholders that the Government deferred the re-opening of schools until further notice,” said the ministry in a statement on Tuesday.

“Government is currently in widespread consultations and will only announce any schools re-opening date once Cabinet has taken a position. It is in this light that the Ministry advises all schools remain closed until a Government directive on re-opening is issued,” partly reads the ministerial statement.

“Our valued stakeholders need to be advised that the Ministry continues to prioritise health and safety as it strives to provide equitable, quality, inclusive, relevant and competence driven Primary, Secondary and Non-formal education at all times”.

In recent days, the social media has been abuzz with reports that the reopening of Zimbabwean schools was now imminent- five months after the first schooling Term was prematurely ended on 24 March 2020 due to the Covid19 pandemic.

The ravaging effects of the coronavirus scourge have negatively impacted on the country’s school calender with learners spending most of their time out of the classroom in 2020.

The circulation of rumours that schools were on the brink of reopening had been met with widespread condemnation by both parents and teachers with critics blaming President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Government of seeking to expose the children to the vagaries of the indiscriminately catastrophic virus.