A number of schools in the Western Cape have been approached to offer their hostels as isolation centres for patients recovering from Covid-19. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
A number of schools in the Western Cape have been approached to offer their hostels as isolation centres for patients recovering from Covid-19. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Western Cape schools asked to house patients recovering from Covid-19

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Apr 7, 2020

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Cape Town - A number of schools in the Western Cape have been approached to offer their hostels as isolation centres for patients recovering from Covid-19.

So wrote Western Cape Education Department head Brian Schreuder in letters to principals on Friday.

Schreuder said that although the education department had great sympathy for the needs of the Health Department in combating the pandemic, the position of the department was that schools would reopen soon, which meant it could not, at this stage, relinquish hostels.

Schreuder said the department had, however, made plans to assist, “if it becomes known that schools will be closed for a longer period (exceeding two months). We have costed the implications and are in constant contact with integrated teams within the province to plan for several

eventualities”.

“The decision can only be taken by me. It cannot be taken on an ad hoc manner across the province. I ask for your understanding and support in this regard. There is a protocol via disaster management structures, and through a central point. I do understand that local municipalities are also trying to make plans and I am appreciative of this process. But decisions about the use of any public school facilities in any way can only be taken by me, in an orderly fashion, within our principles and protocols,” Schreuder said.

He said that as matters stood, the education department was still in daily discussions with the Health Department and disaster management at the highest level, and would inform schools individually via the district office if it did decide to go that route.

“This decision will be made with the understanding that schools will be closed while the hostels are in use, unless major factors dictate otherwise in due course,” Schreuder said.

He also made an announcement about the proposal on the table that, as the pandemic extends, schools could become community hubs for communication and possible broader humanitarian food distribution points.

Schreuder said the department had asked the principals if they were approached to “refer any requests to your district director. No permission has been granted for this proposal yet”.

ANC deputy chief whip in the provincial legislature and party spokesperson on education Khalid Sayed said given that those hostels and schools might have to be utilised immediately to resume education once lockdown ended, the preferable option remained to use appropriate outlying municipal or state facilities, guest farms, hotels and guest houses.

“The WCED should rather focus on ensuring that schools are utilised as centres for the distribution of food during the Covid-19 lockdown,” Sayed said.

@SISONKE_MD

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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