Cosas threatens to shut down schools in the Western Cape and Gauteng due to Covid-19
Reports show 61 of the 1 509 schools in the Western Cape had temporarily closed for disinfecting due to positive coronavirus cases since the reopening of schools in the province on 1 June.
Children can be seen in class at the Olievenhoutbosch secondary school on their first day back at school since the beginning of the national lockdown to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus, 8 June 2020, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles
The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has threatened to shut down all schools in the Western Cape and Gauteng due to a worrying increase of positive Covid-19 cases in schools across the provinces.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura and the Gauteng Coronavirus Command Council announced on Friday that 54 schools had been affected by coronavirus and 56 cases were reported across the province’s schools from 8 June until last Thursday.
Education analyst Mary Metcalfe said the unions had consistently argued for all the material necessities and institutional processes to be in place so schools could opened safely.
“If these are in place, I see no reason for schools to close because of a case of Covid-19. If the person is quarantining at home, and the school is rigorously observing the messages to safeguard self and others, there is no threat,” Metcalfe said.
“The epidemic will be with us for the next 18 months and we will have to routinely comply with physical distancing, regular handwashing and wearing of masks for as long as Covid is a threat .”
However, reports show 61 of the 1 509 schools in the Western Cape had temporarily closed for disinfecting due to positive coronavirus cases since the reopening of schools in the province on 1 June, while a “number of schools” in the Eastern Cape would be closed due to 25 pupils testing positive for the virus.
Last week, several schools across the country sent out letters to parents requesting that their children remain at home as staff had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Mandisa Shiceka School of Specialisation in Gauteng alerted parents last Tuesday of a confirmed coronavirus case.
A teacher at Clairwood Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal also tested positive last week.
When schools opened last Monday, Grade 7 pupils of West Bank High School in the Eastern Cape were sent home at 10am to self isolate pend-ing results of a schoolmate who’s parent tested positive.
On Thursday, Hugenote High School in Wellington, Western Cape, shut down after two Grade 12 pupils tested positive.
The department of basic education (DBE) could not say how many schools had closed since they had reopened.
“We haven’t compiled a list so I cannot confirm,” said DBE spokesperson Elijah Mahlangu, who denied there was a crisis.
“We have standard operating procedures which are used to train teachers. Those procedures are what schools are implementing. If there is a case that is confirmed, close the school and fix what needs to be fixed.
“There is no crisis.”
Education activist Hendrick Makaneta suggested that the education department go back to the drawing board to avoid further risk to teachers and pupils.
“Since we do not know what happens to a teacher on the road between home and school, we are likely to see an increase in those who test positive,” he said.