Northern Cape schools hit by high Covid-19 infection rate as matrics set to start prelim exams

The Northern Cape education department has reported a high increase in the number of Covid-19 infections.
The Northern Cape education department has reported a high increase in the number of Covid-19 infections.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

The Northern Cape has recorded 526 new Covid-19 infections in schools over the past week, compared with 213 in total over the previous three weeks.

This comes as matrics start writing their preliminary exams from Monday.

Northern Cape education department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe confirmed on Sunday that the new cases included 54 teachers, 439 pupils and 33 support staff.

Three of eight schools that were closed to allow for contact tracing and disinfection of the premises are scheduled to reopen on Monday.

Van der Merwe said the pandemic was causing major disruptions in the education sector and the department was deeply concerned about the loss of learning and teaching time.

“The department is currently running weekend lock-in and Saturday classes to support matrics. This places an increased strain on our educators, learners and support staff at schools, to ensure that the trimmed curriculum is fully covered and learners are well prepared for the end of year exams.”

Meanwhile, Western Cape education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond confirmed that between August 7 and 13 there were 246 teachers infected as well as 374 new pupil infections for the period August 13 to 18.

Hammond said that many infections were caused “not as a result of children being in school, but because of other social settings outside school”.

“While learners are asked to comply with Covid-19 protocols at school, we cannot monitor their behaviour outside school.”

She said that 16 schools were closed for decontamination last week.

Limpopo education department spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said 177 educators and 251 pupils were infected since schools reopened on July 26.

She said teaching was suspended at 76 schools to allow for deep cleaning after confirmed positive cases were recorded.

“Early school closures had a negative impact on teaching and learning in the lower grades compared to grade 12 as many schools tried their best to keep them busy through different interventions.”

She said the matrics were ready for the preliminary exams.

The Mpumalanga education department said between August 1 and 18 in the Nkangala district a teacher had died of Covid-19 complications and 30 teachers and 58 pupils were infected. 

Free State education department spokesperson Howard Ndaba said 122 teachers and 305 pupils had been infected since August 2 and that one school was closed because of Covid-19 infections.

“Covid-19 has a far-reaching impact on learning and teaching,” he said.

North West education department spokesperson Elias Malindi said 155 pupils, eight teachers and two screeners were infected.

“In such situations, the school would temporarily close for a day or two to allow for decontamination,” he said.

A total of 1,208 pupils and 134 teachers contracted Covid-19 in the Eastern Cape, according to a report released by the department last Sunday.

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