Second KZN pupil dies of Covid-19-related illness
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DURBAN - A SECOND child has died in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of Covid-19 this month. On Sunday, news of a Phoenix Grade 7 pupil’s death due to Covid-19 was shared on social media.
Two weeks ago, Shanika Balsarang, a Grade 4 pupil at Acaciavale Primary School in Ladysmith, died from Covid19 complications. Along with her parents and grandmother she had tested positive two weeks prior to her death.
On Sunday, Wembley Primary School in Phoenix confirmed that it had sent a communique to the department’s circuit manager on Saturday regarding Katelyn Pillay’s death.
“I can confirm that a communique was sent to the circuit manager on Sunday (Saturday). He has been informed of the case,” said Wembley Primary principal Krish Naidu when the Daily News asked if he could confirm that Pillay died due to Covid-19.
He directed all further queries to the Department of Education.
Pillay’s picture was posted on Facebook with the caption “RIP Katelyn, parents do the right thing”.
Many reacting to the post called for schools to close.
“Deepest and sincerest condolences to Reshmie and Denver on the loss of your precious princess Katy. We all have lost such a humble pleasant decent child knowing her from Grade R and she always had such a beautiful smile. The schools have to be shut down. #SaveOurChildren,” wrote Prelene Soobrayloo.
The department said it was yet to receive the communique from Wembley Primary on the case.
“We can't comment on something that is put up by someone on Facebook, not by the school. Normally our schools send out communication in this regard,” said spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi.
Phoenix ward councillor Jonathan Annipen said five to seven schools closed on a daily basis for the day for cleansing due to Covid cases.
“This is counter-productive, especially if the pupils have been in contact with others.”
National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said it was saddened by the death of two pupils due to Covid. Chief executive Thirona Moodley said they were aware of the high rate of infections in schools and they have not previously seen such high infections in pupils.
“The experts did indicate that the Delta variant is more transmissible and we are seeing this in the infections in schools. Schools also reflect the community and this is definitely what is the status of the community.
“We are also getting reports of teacher infections. Infections in schools result in pupils in isolation or in quarantine; this results in learning losses and breaks the continuity of schooling,” she said.
Moodley felt stop-start schooling was disruptive and time lost could not be made up.
“Schools must keep the social distance of 1 metre at all costs. Schools who could not maintain that distance should not bring back 100% of the pupils, it would be irresponsible and reckless on the part of the school management.
“We have asked our members to report such schools so that we can take it up with the department. Government must speed up the vaccination drive so that children also get vaccinated. We are not safe, until we are all safe.”
The National Teachers' Union (Natu) said it was also concerned by the matter and had raised its concerns with the department.
“Pupils are getting sick, schools are closing now and again. The only solution is for the department to hire more teachers, send mobile classes to schools where pupils are congested. We are going to fight tooth and nail with the department to provide more teachers and mobile classrooms,” said Natu’s general secretary Cynthia Barnes.
Premier Sihle Zikalala on Sunday said an increase in cluster cases had been noted, with schools emerging as the biggest contributor.
“In fact, more than 120 schools have reported clusters in their school settings; and more than 800 pupils and teachers have been affected.
“Pupils make up at least 95% of this number, while teachers account for the remaining 5%.”