Second KZN pupil’s Covid-related death renews calls to revisit school plan
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DURBAN - The death of a second KwaZulu-Natal schoolgirl from Covid-19 complications has renewed calls for the Department of Education to review its school policy as the province battles the third wave of the coronavirus.
Wembley Primary School pupil Katelyn Pillay is believed to have died over the weekend.
School principal Krish Naidu confirmed to the Daily News that communiqué regarding Katelyn's death was sent to the circuit manager at the weekend.
The Grade 7 girl's death comes just days after 9-year-old Shanika Balsaring succumbed to Covid. She was a Grade 4 pupil at the Acaciavale Primary School in Ladysmith. According to the Ladysmith Herald, Shanika and her whole family had been infected by Covid-19.
IOL previously reported that Assegai Primary School in Wentworth had to close for three days last week due to recorded Covid-19 cases. Several other schools also issued parents with letters after teachers or pupils tested positive.
At a primary school in Westridge, pupils from the school’s Grade 7 classes are in isolation after one boy tested positive.
The school has also cancelled all extramural activities until further notice.
The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA KZN chief executive, Thirona Moodley, said they were disturbed and saddened by the girls’ deaths.
“Experts have indicated that the Delta variant is more transmissable and we’re seeing this in infections at schools. Infections in schools result in learners in isolation or in quarantine, this results in learning losses and breaks the continuity of schooling.
’’The stop-start schooling is disruptive and time lost can’t be made up. Schools must keep the social distancing of 1 metre at all costs," she said.
African Democratic Change's (ADeC) Visvin Reddy urged parents to keep their children at home if they were sick.
“At times such as these we need to act in the best interests of our loved ones. Our decision must be based on empirical data and the advise from experts. ADeC is calling on all parents to keep their children at home. Where possible, arrange with school governing bodies and educators to facilitate remote learning," he said.
On Sunday, KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala confirmed that the province was in the third wave.
“We have been reliably advised by medical experts that we are now well and truly in the third wave of Covid-19. The province has for the past three consecutive days, recorded more than 3 000 new cases, and is reporting the second-highest number of daily confirmed cases,“ Zikalala said.
He said there has been a noted increase in cluster cases, with schools emerging as the biggest contributor in this regard.
“More than 120 schools have reported clusters in their school settings, and more than 800 learners and teachers have been affected. Learners make up at least 95% of this number, while educators account for the remaining 5%,” the Premier said.
KZN has a total of 430 789 confirmed cases, with 42 970 active cases and 12 622 deaths.