Tanzania’s students returned to class on Monday following weeks of closure as the country continues its emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, were allowed to resume learning following an order by President John Magufuli, who has expressed satisfaction with his country’s handling of the pandemic.

Schools were ordered shut on 17 May as part of the East African country’s strategy to curb further spread of the disease.

The government has now greenlighted a reopening of the country, including the education and tourism sectors.

Students trooped back to their classrooms wearing face masks as part of health guidelines to avoid another outbreak. Those who did not adhere to the set regulations were turned back.

“All precautionary measures against COVID-19 are in place to protect our pupils,” Xinhua quotes Veronica Mrope, head teacher of Makole primary school in the capital Dodoma.

Amani Mfaume, headmaster of Dodoma Secondary School, said the school’s management has decided that teachers will teach up to Saturdays in order to offset time that was lost when students went for a three-month leave following the outbreak of the viral disease.

Flora Tibaijuka, a matron with Barbro Johansson Model Girls’ Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, said most of the students were reluctant to wear face masks.

“They are giving all reasons with some of them saying when they wear the masks they cannot breathe well,” said Tibaijuka, adding that the school authorities have made it mandatory to wear masks.

Joyce Ndalichako, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, earlier this month said education will resume with strict adherence to health protocols in order to ensure safety for learners and teachers.

Tanzania has reported a total of 509 COVID-19 infections and 21 deaths, according to data from the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.