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Sunday, December 5, 2021

100 Matrics in SA To Write Final Exams Under Quarantine After Testing Positive For COVID-19


BARELY a week after sitting for Grade 12 final exams, almost 100 learners were forced to write their exams under strict protocols after they tested positive.

Department of Basic Education has confirmed that several learners from four provinces, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Free State and the Western Cape will now write exams in isolation facilities after testing positive.

The hardest hit province is the Eastern Cape, which has recorded 53 learners who have to isolate and write their exams.

Last week during his live address to the nation, Ramaphosa warned that Eastern Cape was showing signs of a resurgence in COVID-19 infections.

He said in the past two weeks, the number of new cases in the province was 50% higher than the week before.

These increases were being driven by massive spikes in the Nelson Mandela Metro and the Sarah Baartman District in particular.

The Eastern Cape is followed is followed by the Free State with 23 learners who were infected with COVID-19.

They are followed by Gauteng and the Western Cape with ten infections each.

The department, together with the Department of Health, agreed on Wednesday night that any learners who test positive for Covid-19 would still be able to write their final matric exams. 

It was previously said that learners who have COVID-19 would not be allowed to enter the exam area.

But after parents and learners requested that the protocols be reviewed, a few adjustments were made. 

Candidates who test positive and are deemed fit to write their exams will be allowed to write, but must do so at a different venue and under secure conditions in compliance with exam regulation

On Sunday, Gauteng Education Department unveiled the Nasrec Field Hospital to assist matriculants who test positive for COVID-19 during their Grade 12 final exams.

Provincial education spokesperson Steve Mabona said the COVID-19 field hospital was officially opened on Sunday to ensure learners are able to complete their exams.

On Tuesday, a joint meeting in Parliament of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education and the Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture is expected to discuss the impact of COVID-19 lockdown on schooling.

“An exam centre has already been prepared for infected learners. They will be spending about 10 days depending on how they do. We might extend their stay or they will go home,” said Mabona.

Mabona said they were monitoring two learners who were still awaiting their results but so far of the learners at the hospital two were from Tshwane South with one from Sedibeng West.

Bronagh Hammond, a spokesperson for the Western Cape Education Department said it has received 10 requests for assistance for learners that are COVID-19 positive across the province.

“The WCED has arranged for isolated venues in buildings outside of schools. No COVID-19 positive candidate can write at a school, therefore alternative venues have been sought across the Province so that these learners can be assisted,” said Hammond.

Free State education spokesperson Howard Ndaba said each district in the province had its own quarantine sites to deal with the COVID-19 infected learners.

They include Motheo, Xhariep, and Lejweleputsa districts.

“However, it must be noted that not all learners are writing at the quarantine sites. Some are writing at their schools in isolation rooms,” said Ndaba.

Eastern Cape education spokesperson said Vuyiseka Mboxela  the learners who tested positive were from various schools across the province.

“Some of the learners are able to self-isolate and so far. We are not in a position to know or be at a point where there are requests for people who want to be quarantined in government facilities because most of the learners were detected through private means, like people who went to private hospitals,” said Mboxela.

“In the case of a bigger number of learners infected by COVID-19, let’s say 3 000, the province will be able to handle this because it has field hospitals across the province. Above everything else as the department of education we are working together with the department of health and we have identified community halls where the 53 learners infected will write. When the learners are done writing they will be sent back to isolation.”

Matriculants are currently in the third week of their final National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) said it has partnered with the Department of Health to ensure learners write their exams despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are prepared and working very closely with the Department of Health and we are sure that we will manage,” added Mabona.

Basic Education said each province has space available where they learners can write in quarantine.

“The DBE has been monitoring the Matric examinations across the country as candidates write under COVID-19 conditions with revised safety protocols,” Basic Education Department said in a statement.


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