Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Basic Education Department says more than 50% of contact time lost in schools when Covid-19 struck

By Tarryn-Leigh Solomons Time of article published Jun 1, 2021

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Cape Town - The Basic Education Department has revealed that 54% of contact time was lost for primary schools and 53% for high schools during the 2020 academic year when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country.

The department also told the portfolio committee on Basic Education on Tuesday they want to increase the number of teachers who are vaccinated.

Professor Martin Gustafsson, a researcher and adviser to the department, told the committee that during the 2020 academic year, the percentage of contact time lost stood at 54% for primary schools and 53% at secondary schools.

Gustafsson added that teacher mortality is an indicator of general anxiety experienced by teachers, which would have affected teaching. Critically, secondary-level teachers appear to face no higher risks than primary level teachers, despite secondary learners being potentially more infectious.

Dr Faith Kumalo, acting chief director at the department, said during the rising infection levels and third wave of the pandemic, it is mandatory for principals to report positive Covid-19 cases. Support services will also be provided to those dealing with anxiety, fear or stress.

Minister Angie Motshekga said on the issue of teacher vaccinations, the Health Department works very closely with her department.

“There is commitment to vaccinate as many teachers as possible, as soon as possible. We cannot confirm a date yet.

Motshekga also noted that the effects of the 2020 academic year will be felt for the next 10 years. “We are doing everything in our power.”

ANC MP Ronnie Moroatshehla said teachers should be considered as front line workers.

He was backed by DA MP Bax Nodada, who noted that teachers were front line workers. He during their oversight visits to schools they were told by principals it would not be possible to complete the curriculum.

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