File image. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
File image. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

Covid-19 breakout: 38 positive cases at 2 Northern Cape schools

By Patsy Beangstrom Time of article published Oct 14, 2020

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Kimberley - Two schools in Britstown have experienced a breakout in Covid-19 infections, resulting in 38 positive cases.

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that both Van Rensburg Primary School and Theron High School in Britstown had experienced a breakout in Covid-19 infections on October 7 and recorded a total of 38 positive cases.

“In terms of the standard operating procedures, when a positive case is reported the school is closed to allow for disinfection to be done,” Van der Merwe said on Wednesday.

He added that the department had issued a circular in this regard to all schools.

“The responsibility now rests with the school to disinfect the premises. In the case of the Britstown schools, the district office informed the schools to close and deep-clean the premises to curb the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Van der Merwe was reacting to a statement by Fawzia Rhoda, DA Northern Cape constituency head of Bo-Karoo, who made an urgent appeal on Wednesday to the Northern Cape MEC for Education, Zolile Monakali, as well as the MEC for Health, Maruping Lekwene, to intervene in what she called the potentially hazardous situation brewing at Van Rensburg Primary School in Britstown.

Rhoda stated that at least 30 pupils and one teacher at the school had already tested positive for Covid-19 last week.

“The school was subsequently closed, following the outbreak,” she added. “Many more learners and teachers, the majority of whom also attended a farewell function with a teacher who subsequently tested positive, are still awaiting their results. The department’s acting district manager for the area, however, has instructed all teachers to return to school tomorrow, despite many still not knowing their Covid-19 status.”

According to Rhoda, a large part of the delay in testing was due to the clinic running out of stock of Covid-19 tests on Monday.

“At this stage, it also takes an average of three days for people testing in Britstown to get their results.”

She alleged further that the school had also not yet been sanitised.

“This was initially scheduled to take place on Thursday and Friday this week. Now the department expects schooling to resume as normal, without any deep-cleaning having taken place at the school.”

Rhoda called on the Department of Education to put the brakes on Thursday’s reopening.

“While exams and report cards are important, they can never take precedence over people’s lives.”

Van der Merwe, however, slammed the DA’s statement, saying it was “very mischievous and disturbing of the DA to report that the Van Rensburg Primary School is still operating as normal”.

“The school has been closed for a period of 10 days. Van Rensburg Primary School and Theron High School will only reopen on Monday, October 19, 2020, for teaching and learning,” he stated.

Van der Merwe said further that the department had requested the Pixley ka Seme district office to engage with the respective principals to adhere to Covid-19 regulations and guidelines.

“As a Province, we expected an increase in the Covid-19 infections due to the delayed peak. Thus far, the mechanisms and precautionary measures we have introduced have limited the spread of the coronavirus very well.”

He stated that the department would continue to support and guide all the schools during these “very difficult and uncertain times”.

“It is unfortunate what transpired in Britstown and we encourage the school community to remain vigilant, continue to wear your masks and sanitise your hands with soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser.”

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