A total of 120 matric exam markers in the Eastern Cape have tested positive for Covid-19 after reporting for duty.
The Department of Basic Education said on Friday that in the first week of marking matric exams papers, 171 markers had tested positive for the virus after reporting for duty.
The majority of them – 120 – were in the Eastern Cape. The province has 5 323 markers.
Basic education head of department Mthanzima Mweli said the 120 had tested positive at the marking centre gates.
The Western Cape is the only province that did not report any positive case at their centres.
Mpumalanga had nine and Gauteng had six, North West, Limpopo, and Northern Cape each had three positive cases. KwaZulu-Natal had four.
“Covid-19 has added an extra dimension to marking as we have known it, now the emphasis is really on safety before we focus on the quality of marking.
“We cannot afford to have marking centres as super spreaders of the coronavirus and that is the message we are taking to colleagues in all the marking centres,” Mweli said.
He said nationally, 1 682 markers withdrew before the starting date.
Gauteng had the highest number of withdrawals at 827 followed by the Western Cape at 298. In the North West, 157 markers withdrew, and 100 in the Eastern Cape.
“Approximately 1 700 markers across the nine provincial education departments – which totals to about 3.6% of the markers appointed – declined their appointments but the provincial education department have a set of reserve markers which [sic] have already been used to replace markers.
“Where provincial education departments choose not to replace the markers, they could extend the marking for up to 18 days.”
He said the department was happy about the first week’s progress.
Marking of the 14 million scripts has to be concluded on 22 January and matric results will be released on 23 February.