St Cyprian's is an independent school for girls in Oranjezicht, Cape Town. Picture: Facebook
St Cyprian's is an independent school for girls in Oranjezicht, Cape Town. Picture: Facebook

St Cyprian's in Cape Town shuts early for March holidays due to coronavirus fears

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Mar 14, 2020

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Cape Town - A Cape Town private school has taken a decision to close early for the March holidays in a bid to mitigate against pupils and teachers being infected with coronavirus.

In a statement on Saturday, St Cyprian's School said it held a meeting with its Covid-19 Specialist Advisory Team which advised that the school should be shut down temporarily. 

St Cyprian's is in the same area as the United Herzlia School, where a parent and a Grade 9 pupil were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus on Friday after travelling abroad to the US and Dubai (United Arab Emirates). That school has also closed eight of its campuses in Cape Town. 

In a statement to the St Cyprian's School community, Principal Shelley Frayne said the decision was taken in the best interests of the pupils. Lessons would go on via online lessons for Grades R to 12.

The Western Cape Province as of Saturday had nine confirmed cases of the coronavirus, while the national tally stood at 38. All infected persons had recently travelled abroad - mainly from Europe. 

Said Frayne: “Considering the new information at our disposal, and in keeping with our desire to protect our children from becoming sick as far as possible as well as to exercise our civic responsibility to slow down the rate of infection, we have taken the decision to close early for the March holidays. 

“While we request all pupils at St Cyprian’s School to stay at home next week, the staff will come to school for planning, training and development, and online teaching,” said Frayne. 

A scheduled matric dance for Grade 12 pupils on Saturday (March 14) night would still go ahead. 

Frayne said the Grade 11 pupils who would also be present at the dance would be provided with hand sanitizer throughout the evening. 

“While St Cyprian’s School has always distanced itself from matric dance after-parties, we wish to advise even more strongly that our girls not participate in these this year. They really should avoid mass gatherings at public venues where social distancing is nigh impossible,” Frayne said. 

Meanwhile, the school said it would cancel activities such as ballet, pottery and karate, activities which were open to external service providers. 

For the school’s own sporting plans, which included sporting tours, it said this would be communicated on Monday. 

“We wish to emphasize that we do not know of any member of the St Cyprian’s family who is a confirmed case or any who have been identified as ‘first contacts’. 

“Nevertheless, members of our family have strong relationships with a neighbouring school which does have such cases. Our actions are thus in keeping with our wish to be prepared rather than responsive,” said Frayne. 

The principal said teachers would be expected to report to school next week and the early closure of the school campus to pupils presented an opportunity for the school to explore alternative ways of teaching. 

“Please be cognisant of the fact that this situation is rapidly evolving and that we are committed to being sensible and cautious while at the same time reducing the panic created by social media and other channels. 

“There is a probability of communication from the government Sunday (March 15) evening and we await advice and guidance from them also,” said the principal.

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