At least 98 learners at the Ethembeni High School in the Eastern Cape have tested positive for the virus while they were busy with their prelim exams. File picture
At least 98 learners at the Ethembeni High School in the Eastern Cape have tested positive for the virus while they were busy with their prelim exams. File picture

Over 500 pupils to be in quarantine as 98 schoolmates test positive for Covid-19

By Tebogo Monama Time of article published Sep 21, 2020

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Johannesburg - As teachers with comorbidities are preparing to return to work on Monday, nearly 100 learners at one Eastern Cape high school have tested positive for Covid-19.

At least 98 learners at the Ethembeni High School have tested positive for the virus while they were busy with their prelim exams. Another 552 learners will be placed in quarantine.

The Eastern Cape Education Department said that affected learners were from Burgersdorp and Middelburg.

The learners will continue writing their exams and invigilators will be required to wear protective clothing. Exam scripts will also be monitored before being marked.

Eastern Cape education MEC Fundile Gade said: “Of the 685 tested learners and teachers, nine learners tested positive. Our team is giving hourly updates to help establish the number of matrics from the group who tested positive for isolation.”

He said the learners would be isolated in Aliwal North where they would continue with their exams.

“All contacts of the 98 positive learners are being tracked urgently to curb the spread of the virus.

“The government approach is meant to also avoid any loss of life, especially to those parents and families who may have comorbidities. We urge the community to work with us to ensure we stop the spread of the virus.” He said that community tracing of the learners’ contacts was also being conducted.

In the rest of the country, teachers who have been working from home, because of their comorbidities are expected back in schools today. The agreement between the Basic Education Department and teachers’ unions was that when school reopened, teachers with comorbidities should be allowed to work from home until level 1.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the move to level 1.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA executive head Basil Manuel said: “All our teachers knew the agreement would come to an end at level 1.

“The department has given us a firm undertaking that schools are safe places that will have all the necessary PPE (personal protective equipment).

“In some provinces like the Western Cape and some districts in Gauteng, we have been told that teachers should not come back, because there are substitute teachers. They will let us know this week when the teachers can return.”

The Star

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