24 pupils test positive at Eastern Cape boarding school

24 pupils tested positive for the virus
24 pupils tested positive for the virus
Image: 123RF/Jarun Ontakrai

A KwaBhaca secondary school in the Alfred Nzo district has reported 24 Covid-19 cases after tests were done on some of the pupils last week, education superintendent-general Themba Kojana has confirmed.

On Friday, 24 Makaula Secondary School pupils tested positive and after these results, a further 253 pupils and 47 support staff were tested. Their results are still outstanding. Teachers are expected to be tested on Monday.

Kojana said the positive results had caused panic among parents and pupils,  prompting some parents to take their children out of the school.

But Koana said the department was not pleased with the parents' decisions, as taking the boarder pupils home would put their family members at risk of cross-infection.

The confirmed cases at the school had been reported to the health department and the social development department had come on board with “social support”.

“Support will be given to those pupils. It is very important,” he said. “They are tracking the results to make sure they reach the laboratory as soon as possible.”

Both the education and health departments are communicating with the parents. 

Kojana said it had been decided that those who were positive should be in quarantine.

“They should be quarantined in the environment they are in because they will infect the elderly at home and we know [this disease] is difficult with the elderly.”

The pupils are at the school’s hostels, and can only visit their homes quarterly when schools are in recess.

DispatchLIVE understands that initially there were 120 pupils at the school who showed symptoms related to Covid-19 but only 30 were tested.

Kojana said the parents who took the children to their homes had given them the assurance that they had retested their children and were awaiting the results.

He said the parents who took the pupils out of the school had done so out of “parenthood”.

“The first call of any parents once there is an outbreak is to protect their children. The department engaged the parents on the importance of testing children so that we know the results. We need to quarantine the children so that they are in one place,” he said.

With regard to the school, he said on Sunday the health department was busy disinfecting the building.

“This needs an integrated approach to fight the pandemic and that has been demonstrated by the department of health and now the social development department has come on board.”

When schools reopened at the beginning of the month and alert level 3 of the lockdown kicked in, 31 schools across the Eastern Cape closed after 20 people tested positive for Covid-19. The breakdown was 15 teachers, three pupils and two non-teaching staff members.

A total of 13,000 grade 7 and 12 pupils were expected to return to school across the province from June 8 after schools closed on March 27 when the country entered national lockdown.

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