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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

COVID-19: Don’t Panic, Be Alert, says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga

Nyakallo Tefu 

As the number of coronavirus infections in South Africa continues to rise, concerns have been raised on the state of readiness of the Department of Basic Education Department amid the closures of some schools in the country. 

The Basic Education Department has urged schools not to panic when it comes to COVID-19 cases, adding that the plan to deal with the virus at schools has been integrated with that of the public.

#Ramaphosa: “You are our patriots. We are proud of you. This is an important mission for the whole nation. We will be looking to you to execute this mission to bring our young people back home.”

“We have received a many enquiries regarding our plans to deal with the Coronavirus in schools. We have redirected all the enquiries to the Department of Health, that is leading the interventions regarding the management of cases,” said Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga.

“We have sent a Circular to all our schools to provide guidelines on what to do in terms of general hygiene standards. The Department of Health however, will communicate should any announcements be made specifically on the Coronavirus. The safety of our learners and teachers remain a priority in the sector. This year we are experiencing several tragedies involving learners, where some of them, have sadly passed away. We convey our heartfelt condolences to all the affected families and schools. We continue to work with our stakeholders to ensure that we avoid the unnecessary loss of lives.”


Last week, Cowan House Preparatory School in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, was closed after a parent at the school became the first confirmed coronavirus case in South Africa.

The parent had been one of the 10 people who had recently travelled to Italy. 

This week, Grayston Preparatory School in Sandton, Gauteng, was also closed due to fears of a possible coronavirus patient at the school. 

The school said one of the teachers disclosed that she was in contact with one of the 10 people who travelled to Italy recently and has since gone into self-isolation. 

The Gauteng Department of Basic Education says this was not communicated to them but they have since asked the school to provide reasons for their decision.

“Schools and educators cannot decide to close the school without communicating with the education department and the department of health”, says spokesperson Steve Mabona. 

In the Free State Province, the education department spokesperson Howard Ndaba says they will be meeting this week to discuss ways to deal with COVID-19 should it hit any of the schools in the province. 

In the Eastern Cape, MEC for Education Fundile Gade said the Department has embarked on an advocacy programme to create awareness about COVID-19.

“Our advocacy campaign is aimed at creating awareness and making sure our populace has a better understanding of the virus itself,” said Gade.

“Our advocacy programme involved communities, schools, National Association of SGBs and trade unions. We are currently satisfied in terms of our state of readiness.”

The basic education department says the most important thing for parents, school children, school staff and the public in general is to remember to practice basic hygiene, which includes:

–      Regular washing of hands 

–      Covering your mouth when you cough 

–      Avoid coming into contact with people who are sick 

–      Avoid touching your eyes, ears, and nose 

–      Seek medical help if you are sick

“We are being led by the Health Department, so no school should close without instruction from the department”, says Mhlanga.  

At the weekend, the third coronavirus case was confirmed in South Africa.

This was the wife of the first man diagnosed after returning from Italy. 

The group of 10 that travelled to Italy is currently being tested and in self-isolation.

However, both their children have tested negative for COVID-19. 

 The novel coronavirus has infected more than 108,000 people globally and killed more than 3,800.

As of this past weekend, the global number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has surpassed 110 000, according to the World Health Organization’s spokesperson, Tarik Jasarevic.

“WHO calls on all countries to continue efforts that have been effective in limiting the number of cases and slowing the spread of the virus. Every effort to contain the virus and slow the spread saves lives. These efforts give health systems and all of society much needed time to prepare, and researchers more time to identify effective treatments and develop vaccines,” said Jasaveric.

“We must stop, contain, control, delay and reduce the impact of this virus at every opportunity. Every person has the capacity to contribute, to protect themselves, to protect others, whether in the home, the community, the healthcare system, the workplace or the transport system.” 

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