Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga File picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA

Concerns DBE decision to suspend contact sport in schools ’not based on scientific data’

By Siphokazi Vuso Time of article published May 21, 2021

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Cape Town – The Association of Public Boys’ Schools of South Africa (APBSA) says it is concerned the decision by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to suspend contact sports in schools with immediate effect has been taken in the absence of scientific data.

The association said they were not aware of surveys at schools to ascertain levels of infection, or whether these were sport related or not, and they were trying to collate such data from their member schools.

The DBE said this week the decision to suspend all contact sports was made by the Council of Education Ministers, following calls made by education experts and activists as a result of the looming third wave.

“During the last week of Term 1, school sports activity related Covid-19 outbreaks in Gauteng were reported and have been gradually increasing in Term 2.

“It is evident that despite following the protocols as guided by the directions on extramural activities and standard operating procedure on the prevention, containment and management of Covid-19 in schools, contact sports events still contribute to the spread of Covid-19,” the department said.

Non-contact sport training in schools can continue provided all social distancing, hygiene and safety measures are observed and there is no physical contact between participants during training, the DBE said.

APBSA general secretary Tim Gordon said they were strongly opposed to a blanket ruling which affects all schools across the country, regardless of the levels of infection in specific areas, or protocol observances in specific environments.

“We believe rather that all cases of Covid infection should be managed in consultation with the Department of Education on a school-by-school basis, as was initially the case with the return of learners to school ...

’’It is important to know whether an identified infection is sport-related or whether it has coincidentally arisen in a learner who plays sport.

’’We believe the vast majority of current infections in schools are not arising from sports matches, but rather from social gatherings and weekend activities that have taken place outside of the school environment and control,” Gordon said.

The DBE did not respond to questions by deadline.

Professor Ian Sanne, from the University of the Witwatersrand and a member of the Covid Minister of Health Advisory Committee (MAC), said the decision to suspend contact sport should be seen as a strong signal the country was experiencing the beginning of the third wave of Covid.

In a statement on their social media page, Van Riebeeckstrand Primary School said they would provide more information to parents and learners on whether they would be able to continue with rugby, netball and hockey conditioning and skills exercises.

“We are waiting for more clarity from the national education department. The national minister of education will soon publish the new directives in the Government Gazette.

’’We are well aware that this will have a huge emotional impact on both learners and parents. From the school’s point view, we will do everything in our power to help process this trauma and ask that you as a parent also support your child emotionally at home.”

Cape Times

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