Employees obliged to disclose statuses

Strict Covid-19 protocols for matric exam markers

Image: 123RF/Julija Sapic

Any of the 45,000 matric paper exam markers who fail to disclose their positive Covid-19 status during the 18 days of marking will face charges of misconduct.

The marking of scripts is  expected to start today at about 181 centres around the country where 14m scripts from the grade 12 pupils will be marked. The matric results are expected to be released on February 22.

The department of education has drawn up extensive Covid-19-related protocols for markers and their managers to follow prior to and during the marking process. The document, titled Protocol For The Marking of the 2020 Combined National Senior Certificate Examinations In Compliance With The Covid-19 Requirements, cautions infected markers from hiding their Covid-19 statuses. Markers with comorbidities are expected to disclose their health conditions in a confidential questionnaire.

“In cases where a marker/official fails to disclose his/her status, such a marker or an employee will be liable for a misconduct [charge],” read the document.

“We do not expect the markers to disobey the protocols. Reserve markers are on standby to continue with the work should any kind of incident occur. All other unexpected transgressions will be dealt with in terms of the regulations issued by the department of health or cooperative governance or other department involved in the management of Covid cases,” said department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga yesterday.

The markers will be screened daily from today and each centre will have isolation rooms in the schools’ hostels with an in-house nurse. Marking centre managers will be responsible for ensuring adherence of protocols which include social distancing between markers, non-sharing of pens and desks and no mask breaks inside the marking rooms unless in open areas.

The strict measures come as the department of education is battling the impact of Covid-19 in schools last year. Last week, it was reported that 32 teachers died of Covid in one week last month, bringing the number of teachers who have died of it to more than 1,600.

Meanwhile, the Gauteng education department was hit by another school burglary last week when the computer laboratory at Sapphire Secondary School in the Vaal, south of Johannesburg, was broken into and 42 computers were stolen.

“The incident occurred on Thursday around 10pm. About 42 computers were stolen from the lab that was launched by MEC Panyaza Lesufi in collaboration with MTN in September 2020,” department spokesperson Steve Mabona said yesterday.

“Criminals broke into the lab by breaking a brick wall. We are dismayed by the criminal activity and call upon the community to report such incidents to the police. A case has been opened with the police.”

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