Appointment of school-based Covid-19 ‘screeners’ welcomed
KwaZulu-Natal Education head Enock Nzama on Tuesday issued a circular about the appointment of screeners, to screen pupils for Covid-19 symptoms before they enter school premises.
According to the circular, the screeners would be community caregivers from the Health and Public Works departments who are part of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), and who would be trained in screening.
Nzama said Public Works had advised that school governing bodies and principals make the appointments to fast-track the process, instead of the department recruiting them.
Education Department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said training would be conducted in conjunction with the health department.
Education stakeholders, including teachers’ unions, which had earlier rejected the responsibility of screening pupils, applauded the move, but complained that schools were given a short time to make the appointments.
They also questioned when the screeners would be trained, since they were expected to be at schools when about 376000 Grade seven and 12 pupils return on Monday.
SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said: “We are happy that they are now appointing people who are not teachers,” said Caluza.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) spokesperson Thirona Moodley said they were happy as long as teachers would not be doing the screenings. She said, however, those appointed would have to be trained.
DA education spokesperson Dr Imraan Keeka said a minimum of three people would be required to effectively deal with screenings during the morning rush. He said while the deployment of EPWP beneficiaries was a good move, the number available would not be enough for the 6259 schools in the province.
He said the number might be sufficient to handle matrics and Grade sevens, but not when the rest of the 2.8million pupils are back at school.
“If the screening process is expected to work, screeners should know exactly what to do. We have asked what would happen in a situation where a pupil or teacher was detected with the symptoms. Where are they going to be isolated if a school does not have a sick bay?” asked Keeka.
IFP education spokesperson Thembeni Madlopha-Mthethwa said principals and SGBs were confused about what was expected of them, after two different circulars were issued.
“I received calls from principals saying everything was rushed and they were confused about what was expected of them.”