File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Over 300 Western Cape schools closed over Covid-19 infections

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jun 29, 2020

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Cape Town – More than 700 schools across the country have had to be temporarily closed for Covid-19 decontamination since the phased reopening started.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said that since learning resumed on June 8, there were 775 schools affected after 1169 staff members and 523 pupils contracted the virus.

The Western Cape was leading, with 332 schools closed, and

134 pupils and 557 staff members infected.

The DBE has now urged school principals to ensure their schools comply with all health protocols, and to strictly follow them.

“Just like clinics, police stations and other frequently visited places, schools have found themselves also having to close and reopen. Principals must take measures to ensure pupils and employees are screened when the schools reopen, using the Department of Health Covid-19 procedures and questionnaires. Pupils and employees should report additional symptoms,” said DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.

The message comes as a group of Western Cape high and primary school principals wrote a letter to

the DBE, objecting to the extended phased reopening on July 6.

Education roleplayers in KwaZulu-Natal also came out in support, saying the health and safety of children and staff were being compromised.

National Professional Teachers’ Association of SA president Basil Manuel said the association also feared that calls for the academic year to be scrapped could result in a high drop-out rate of pupils.

“The DBE needs to invest more in our teachers’ psychological health. There is too little effective communication to schools, and to simply say ‘there is a call centre’ is not good enough.”

Manuel said he believed the best place for children was to be in schools. “The number of pupils that haven’t returned to school in our poorest areas is higher than in wealthier areas. When children are out of school for too long, they refuse to return.”

Cape Times

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