Thumbs up for schools risk-adjusted approach, for schools
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Cape Town - The Department of Basic Education (DBE) case-by-case approach to managing Covid-19 infections in schools, along with the announcement of vaccinations for all school staff, has been widely welcomed.
Minister Angie Motshekga at a media briefing in Pretoria on Saturday said the current situation the country found itself in did not warrant closing all schools. She said closures would be dealt with on a school by school basis.
Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC), in a joint statement, said they had since last year appealed to the DBE to implement the risk-adjusted strategy so that teaching and learning can continue in schools in parts of the country where community transmission is low or at zero, allowing the same schools to later close when community transmission becomes high.
The organisations said while learners were at home, they were not receiving school meals and lacked academic support.
“Government must not allow COVID-19 to continue to widen the gap in our education system. Interventions that are responsive to the needs of our schools and that ensure equity must be implemented. The DBE and provincial Education Departments must make sure the system informing their risk-adjusted approach is accessible to the public. The vaccination of school staff is critical and we will monitor the roll-out.”
All education sector staff are expected to start receiving their single dose of the Johnson &Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine in the coming week.
The roll-out will include 582 000 teachers, administrators and support staff.
“The minister should be applauded for the inclusivity of her approach, by ensuring that all school staff are vaccinated as the country continues its drive and focus to reach herd immunity,” said Federation of Unions of South Africa, general secretary Riefdah Ajam.
Education MEC Debbie Schäfer added that it was crucial that there were no further disruptions to the school calendar.
“I urge all our staff to participate to assist in making our schools safer and getting back to some semblance of normality,” she said.
Meanwhile, with clear signs of a third wave In the Western Cape, Premier Alan Winde said hospitalisations were increasing but the province was ready to respond.
“We are seeing a rapid increase in persons requiring hospitalisation. Insofar as our drainage areas are concerned, the Metro has 5 041 beds, of which the general bed use rate is 91% and the Covid-19 bed-use rate is 14%. I want to reassure residents that we do have enough resources in place to respond to the increasing number of Covid-19 infections in the province.”
As at 1pm on Sunday, the province had recorded a total of 309 212 Covid-19 cases.