This is how the Education Dept plans to address the high Covid-19 infection rate among pupils
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GOING back to the basics and raising awareness on Covid-19 safety protocols could help decrease the learner infection rate, says the Department of Basic Education (DBE).
Increasing awareness on strict adherence to safety measures and going back to the basics is the Department of Basic Education’s plan of action as the infection rate at schools continues to surge.
The third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has seen many school closures due to infections reported in schools in KwaZulu Natal (KZN). The Western Cape has also been heavily affected showing high numbers of learner infections.
DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said: “We are concerned about the increase in community infections regarding Covid-19. The closure of schools is provided for in the standard operating procedures as part of the safety-first focus in Covid-19 case management.
“Schools are supposed to close temporarily to protect learners and teachers, it is part of the process it is not an anomaly. It is allowed and needed when the situation calls for it.”
Last week, parents at KZN’s Assegai Primary School met with the School’s Governing Body where the cancellation of this year’s academic year was discussed. The parents felt that their children were at a greater risk of contracting the virus at school.
SGB chairperson Andre de Bruin said: “The greater concern school should be that schools close until the end of the academic year. Rather have a child repeat a grade than dig a grave is our motto.”
De Bruin said the DBE’s response plan was not very effective.
“To meet requirements of disaster management act response to Covid-19 protocol is impossible. You can’t get the whole school with classes of over 50 learners. Teachers are unable to even walk to the back of the classroom anymore,” he said.
However, KZN MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu said there was a problem in the following of the health and safety protocols.
While in the Western Cape, data indicates that from August 7 to April 13 the learner infection rates remain under 0.1% of the population with 0.05% of the learner population reported having contracted the virus last week (638 learners).
The Western Cape Education Department said: “The infection rates of our youth have been discussed with health professionals who have confirmed that while there has been a slightly greater number of Covid-19 cases among our youth in this wave, the proportion of those being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 is still small.”
KZN’s Dr Kams Govender warned in a published medical journal that the reopening of schools would push the infection rate.
“School-going children will be the initial driving force behind the third wave especially in preparatory and primary schools where there is close contact time. Effective Covid-19 response at school will have a direct impact on transmission rate in communities,” he said.