KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said yesterday that the increase in Covid-19 infections at schools in the province was no cause for alarm, as it was a reflection of the communities where cases had been on the rise.
Picture: Supplied
KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said yesterday that the increase in Covid-19 infections at schools in the province was no cause for alarm, as it was a reflection of the communities where cases had been on the rise. Picture: Supplied

Infections at KZN schools indicative of Covid-19 prevalent areas

By Thami Magubane and Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jun 29, 2020

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala said yesterday the increase in Covid-19 infections at schools in the province was no cause for alarm, as it was a reflection of the communities where cases had been on the rise.

He said parents should allow the Department of Health to take the lead in managing the Covid-19 cases in schools and communities.

Statistics show the reported number of infections at schools in the province has increased to 187, of which 139 were teachers and 37 pupils.

“The uMgungundlovu District leads in terms of the number of infected teachers.

“What is critical is how we manage the situation, to ensure we minimise the spread of the virus.

“I need to highlight that there is no need to suspend classes for 14 days each time a positive case has been reported.

“Ordinarily, it should take the Department of Education not more than three days to decontaminate an affected school, thereafter allow teaching and learning to continue,” he said.

The KZN Department of Education’s head of department, Dr Enock Nzama, said everything was in place to ensure the risk of infection was minimised.

“If you look at the number of pupils that we have in schools and the number of infections, it has not been bad.

“It is difficult to police Covid-19 as more teachers and pupils returned to school, especially if they are already sick and we don’t know about it,” he said.

The department is looking to limit the number of pupils at schools by having different groups of pupils attending on different days.

Nzama said all the technical aspects, including the cleaning of the schools and the provision of safety equipment, were in place.

Nationally, more than 700 schools across the country have been temporarily closed for Covid-19 decontamination since the phased reopening started.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said since learning resumed on June 8, 775 schools were affected when 1 169 staff members and 523 pupils contracted the virus.

The Western Cape was leading the numbers, with 332 schools closed, 134 infected pupils and 557 staff members.

Education role-players in KZN also came out in support, saying the health and safety of children and staff were being compromised.

The National Professional Teachers’ Association of SA (Naptosa) president Basil Manuel said, however, they also feared that the growing calls for the academic year to be scrapped could result in a high dropout rate.

“The anxiety levels are higher everywhere because of deaths and the number of infections, so people are reacting to that.

“The DBE needs to invest more in our teachers, particularly in their psychological health, and also in children.”

Manuel said he believed the best place for children was to be in schools.

“We’ve seen already the number of pupils that haven’t returned to school in our poorest areas is much higher than in areas that are wealthier.

“When children are out of school for too long, they refuse to return.

“So we can’t simply just call for the year to be scrapped.

“What we are saying is that when we do see that the whole system is spiking, the minister must then make a decision whether to change the holiday period to ensure that is when we go on break,” he said.

The Mercury

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