Gauteng schools shut down amid rising Covid-19 infections in pupils, teachers
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Johannesburg - Several Gauteng schools temporarily closed down this week after learners and school staff tested positive for Covid-19 amid rising infections in the province.
The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed on Wednesday that there is a cluster outbreak at Pioneer Primary School in Benoni, Ekurhuleni, which resulted in the hospitalisation of the school’s principal and deputy principal.
Mabona said two learners had also tested positive at the school from the cluster outbreak.
“The school is closed. Note that the GDE only closes schools on the expert advice of the Gauteng Department of Health,” Mabona added.
The outbreak at Pioneer Primary School comes at the time where primary school learners are set to return to school full time at the beginning of the third term on July 28.
Mabona reiterated that the decision to have all primary school learners back to school full time was based on the information indicating that the learners require more contact time, guidance and constant supervision from educators.
“Further, we are constantly engaging all schools to ensure that they follow all relevant Covid-19 protocols for the safety of officials, teachers and learners,” he said.
On Wednesday, Krugersdorp High School issued a letter to parents that the school would close from Thursday morning until Sunday, June 13, after nine learners tested positive for Covid19 this week.
This comes after The Star reported last month that the school on the West Rand was closed following 11 positive Covid-19 cases being identified.
“There are approximately 80 learners in self-isolation this week, resulting in the tracking and tracing procedure becoming very difficult,” principal Ivan Bailey wrote in the letter.
The principal said this week four staff members tested positive and several staff were self-isolating. As a result, the decision was made in consultation with the Department of Health and the GDE to close the high school in the West Rand until Sunday evening.
Bailey added that the school had already had to suspend the whole winter sports programme as a result of the positive cases last week.
“Once the pupils return on Monday, June 14,, we will continue to sanitise every pupil arriving at school and all pupils will be screened before the start of the school day,” the school said.
Midrand High School also served a letter to parents on Wednesday informing them that the school would be closed yesterday until Monday, June 14, following a high number of detected Covid-19 cases.
“This will allow the school to lie empty and unoccupied for more than 72 hours. On Monday, the school will be sanitised using an outside specialist service provider,” school principal Con Purchase wrote.
The closure of schools this week comes as the Gauteng Department of Health said on Thursday that it was concerned by the alarming increase in cases across the province.
Gauteng registered 5 111 new cases on Wednesday, accounting for over 50% of new cases in the country.
“The department urges all people in the province to do their part to protect themselves and to help contain transmission of the virus,” spokesperson Kwara Kekana said.
The Gauteng Provincial Command Council has revealed that 2 068 positive Covid-19 cases were discovered in schools across the province since the beginning of the academic year. The Education Department showed that 1 227 Gauteng learners tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the year.