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Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng hardest hit by Covid-19 infections in schools

Yoliswa Sobuwa Journalist
More learners are set to return to school on Monday
More learners are set to return to school on Monday
Image: SAMORN TARAPAN/123rf.com

Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng are the three provinces which recorded the highest number of positive cases of Covid-19 in schools.

This was announced by minister of basic education Angie Motshekga while briefing the country on the state of readiness for re-opening of schools on Monday.

Motshekga said Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng  recorded the highest number of infections for both teachers and learners.

"We unfortunately lost the lives of 11 teachers and four non-teaching staff in the Eastern Cape to the virus; as well as three learners, who were reported to have succumbed to Covid-19. The reports show that some of these teachers and learners could not have the opportunity of reporting back to school," Motshekga said.

She said since the return of the grades 7 and 12 there had been 2,740 teachers, of the total number of about 440,000 teachers, who were infected by the virus.

"This is equivalent to less than one percent of the entire teacher population in our country. In the same period there were 1260 learners that were infected by the virus," Motshekga said.

She said there were only 968 schools that had to close and reopen as a result of Covid-19 positive cases. Motshekga said since grades 7 and 12 learners returned to school on June 8, 968 of 25,762  schools, were closed and reopened.

"We had 25,762, only 968 had to close and re-open which is almost 4% of the total number of public and independent schools in our country. It must be noted that the average duration for the deep cleaning, decontamination and fumigation of schools, and the preparation of schools for the resumption of teaching and learning, is three days," Motshekga said.

She said it should be emphasised that temporary closure of the less than 4% of schools after the school reopening on June 8 was much better than a system-wide closure over the same and even longer period of time.

"This would come at an unacceptable cost of lost learning and school feeding for an entire generation of children, with a consequent worsening of social and economic inequalities for years to come.

"It has not been possible yet to measure the impact of the current school closures on learning, since no significant assessments of learner performance has been done. However, the international and local evidence around the typical impact of losing school time, due to disasters, strikes, etc, suggests strongly that learning losses may well be greater than what is suggested by actual days lost," Motshekga said.

She said it was of critical importance that young people are kept constructively occupied, engaged and connected through home schooling.

"The young ones, especially the most vulnerable, are faced by a number of social challenges, particularly violence, unplanned pregnancies, drug abuse, and many other social ills. It takes a village to bring up children; therefore, we implore our communities to support our children at home."

Grades R, 6 and 11 are expected to return to school on Monday. But three provinces - KwaZulu Natal, North West and Limpopo - have confirmed that their grade R pupils will remain at home.