Nearly 35,000 kids exempted from school over Covid-19 fears

Nearly 35,000 pupils in seven provinces have been exempted from attending school because of the fear of contracting Covid-19, basic education DG Mathanzima Mweli told parliament on Tuesday.
Nearly 35,000 pupils in seven provinces have been exempted from attending school because of the fear of contracting Covid-19, basic education DG Mathanzima Mweli told parliament on Tuesday.
Image: Thulani Mbele

A total of 34,565 pupils in seven provinces have been exempted from attending school because of the fear of contracting Covid-19 - including a whopping 28,861 from the Western Cape.

A further 10,903 pupils had declared comorbidities.

Director-general of basic education Mathanzima Mweli released the figures to parliament on Tuesday.

According to figures supplied by seven of the nine provinces, 52,130 pupils in grade 7 and 23,364 in matric were projected to drop out of school this year following the disruption to schooling because of the lockdown.

Alarmingly, these projections include 38,541 grade 7 pupils and 18,708 matric pupils from KwaZulu-Natal.

The Eastern Cape and Northern Cape did not provide figures.

As schools battle to accommodate the different grades by offering classes to different grades in the mornings and afternoons, or on alternate days or alternate weeks, to comply with social distancing protocols, it emerged that 20,657 teachers were granted a concession to work from home because they were aged at least 60 or had comorbidities.

However, the seven provinces surveyed only managed to find 6,400 educators to replace those working from home. Limpopo confirmed that it had found no substitute teachers, while the Western Cape said that it had received 860 nominations to date for teacher assistants.

Since the start of the lockdown, a total of 237 teachers - including 60 from Eastern Cape, 50 from KwaZulu-Natal and 27 from the Western Cape - died of Covid-19 related complications.

At least 40 non-teaching staff and four pupils also died during this period after contracting the virus.

As far as implementing measures to support grade 12 learners in curriculum coverage, the Eastern Cape developed a school plan for the distribution and collection of work.

The Free State developed question banks and printed revision material. The province is also providing school-based support programmes such as weekend classes.

In Gauteng, teachers are encouraged to consider differentiating classes between high-flyers, progressed learners and learners at risk.

KwaZulu-Natal is holding learner camps, while Mpumalanga is having after-school and weekend classes.

The Western Cape has encouraged self-directed learning.

- TimesLIVE


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