48 Northern Cape schools closed due to COVID-19

Forty eight schools in the Northern Cape have been closed thus far due to COVID-19 infections.

The provincial education department says these are not breakouts but individual cases.

It says the facilities are closed until they have been disinfected and it is safe for educators and learners to return.

The department’s spokesperson Geoffrey van Der Merwe says they are monitoring the situation very closely.

“We have made the necessary arrangements with the department of health to establish the contact traces for testing and have isolated staff and learners where necessary. The Pixley ka Seme, John Toalo Gaetsewe and ZF Mgcawu district offices were also closed with immediate effect due to positive COVID-19 cases reported,” Van der Merwe say

KZN parents up in arms

Parents of learners at oDumo High School in Mandeni, on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, are up in arms after schooling was stopped last week, allegedly by teachers. It is believed that teachers downed tools after raising concerns about safety on school premises.

The school is currently under construction. Member of the school governing body, Jabulani Khuzwayo, says learners have already lost far too much time due to the impact of the lockdown.

“The school has been closed. We don’t know why it has been closed. We have not been informed who closed it. According to our understanding, the school has been cleaned and it’s conducive for teaching and learning to take place. Teachers left our children unattended. No COVID-19 case has been reported in this school. We are left in the dark. Our children want to go to school, but we are have no idea what is going on. We are worried about the future of our children.”

Spokesperson at the provincial education department Muzi Mahlambi says teaching is expected to resume by the end of this week.

“We are aware of the problem that is at oDumo High School in Mandeni where there is construction and educators are feeling that the manner in which the constructor has lay the tools around is not safe for them. We have since sent the implementing agents to assist us with that regard. We are very hopeful that by Wednesday everything should have been cleared up so that the environment becomes conducive for educators and learners to be working at the school.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has said the 2020 school year will have to be carried over to 2021 due to interruptions to the school calendar.

Legal action being considered against those disrupting schools

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM), led by the Minister, is also considering legal action against political parties and civic bodies found to be disrupting schooling. Many have been protesting, calling for schools to be shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Department says these disruptions are in contravention of the South African Schools Act, which prohibits people from interrupting classes.

It says out of 24 000 schools, 775 were affected by COVID-19 since reopening to grade 7 and 12 pupils on 8 June.

Minister Motshekga has encouraged parents who are uncomfortable about sending their children to school to consider homeschooling.