Should South African schools reopen on July 19?

By Tamara Mafilika Time of article published Jul 7, 2021

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Public schools are expected to reopen from the winter break early, on July 19, 2021, instead of July 26, 2021 as it was originally scheduled in the 2021 School Calendar.

However, with the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic soon reaching its peak there is growing concern on whether pupils should return to school despite teachers having been vaccinated.

The new Delta variant is said to be more infectious as it also affects children.

A print news agency quoted the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) as saying ,“there were 9 918 hospital admissions associated with Covid-19 among individuals aged 19 years and younger during the period. In-hospital data was available for 9 443 of these patients. Of the 9 443 patients, 401 died in hospital. Among the deaths, 146 (36.4%) were adolescents aged 15 to 19 years and 125 (31.2%) were aged under one year. "

However the Department of Basic Education says it is assessing the impact of Covid-19 infections in the country on a weekly basis, and so far there are no plans to change its plans to reopen schools on July 19, 2021.

The ministerial spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said that the department conducts a review once a week to see if it needs to update its plans.

Some parents are not too happy with the decision to send children back to school in the peak of the third wave.

Avisha Naicker, a parent from Durban said: “I feel extremely uncomfortable with my son having to return to school on the 19th. This Delta variant is said to have a 97%... There have been many cases of kids contracting this strain and it will be in the best interest of teachers and children if we ride this storm and reopen when there is a significant drop in the infection rate. Health and safety first, and the rest can follow in due time.”

Another parent expressed the same sentiments saying, “As a parent who already lost a child, I am definitely not sending any child to their death.”

Mokgatlhe added that ultimately any decisions around the reopening schools, as well as general lockdown regulations, would be made by the National Coronavirus Command Council and followed by the department.

However, she confirmed that no changes had been made as yet, with discussions set to be held on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

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