As more pupils return to school next week top health professor says no need to worry
Professor Shaheen Mehtar spoke to the Daily News after the Department of Education's stance that it would not be necessary to close a school whenever there was a positive Covid-19 case, and instead to close the affected portion for deep cleaning.
Mehtar, an infection prevention and control specialist at Stellenbosch University and head of the IPC unit at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, said if parents played their role of teaching their children about how to keep safe, there would be no reason to close schools again.
“Explain hand hygiene to your child. This means washing hands frequently, and especially before and after eating, after using the toilet, and after touching any dirty surface. Teach your child how to wear a cloth face mask, and try to get your child to understand that it’s important he or she doesn't fiddle with it.”
All schools are expected to comply with Covid-19 school guidelines contained in a Standard Operating Procedures Booklet supplied by the Department of Basic Education.
Many schools across the country were closed within the first week of schools reopening after teachers had tested positive for Covid-19.
The professor said the only time a facility was closed for decontamination was in a case of a hospital where there was a cluster of infections.
Mehtar said there was a great deal of anxiety about Covid-19, but it would not be practical and “definitely not necessary” to close the entire school whenever there was a Covid-19 case.
However, Vee Gani, chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Parents' Association, felt the Covid-19 protocol should kick in.
He said keeping the school open and expecting teaching and learning to continue as if nothing had happened was a risk that could lead to the loss of life.
“Others can get infected. A school should be closed when there is a threat. I'm not saying it is necessary to close the school, but if it's a confirmed case of somebody who has been at the school and had contact, evaluate the situation and adopt an action plan.”