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Sunday, May 9, 2021

Fears that contact sport and extra-mural activities at school are super-spreader events

NYAKALLO TEFU and MMADIFEDILE MOFOKENG|

The department of basic education (DBE) has come under some criticism after it published new regulations that permit the resumption of extracurricular activities, physical education, inter-school, as well as national and provincial tournaments for school learners.

The decision comes after all extracurricular activities were stopped in March 2020 when the country went under covid-19 lockdown level 5.

Schools opened after being closed for three months under strict regulations to ensure the health and safety of learners and staff returning to school. 

In the gazette, DBE Minister Angie Motshekga said there will be a set number of people allowed during sporting and other activities at South Africa’s primary and high schools. 

“The number of persons, including participants, referees, adjudicators, technical officials, volunteers, medical team, media or broadcasting team and stadium workers will be limited,” said Minister Motshekga. 

She added that a maximum of 250 persons will be allowed for indoor venues and a total of 500 persons for outdoors venues. 

“If the venue is too small to hold 250 persons indoors or 500 outdoors, those at the venue will be expected to observe a distance of at least one and a half meters from each other. Also, not more than 50% of the capacity of the venue may be used,” said Motshekga. 

The Bureau for Economic Research (BER) on Monday said globally, the number of Covid-19 cases rose by the most since the third wave began.

“This is despite millions of people [globally] getting vaccinated on a daily basis,” said BER economist Lisette IJssel de Schepper.

“Fortunately, South Africa’s infection rate remains low, albeit that new cases continue to trend up in three provinces in particular including the Northern Cape, the Free State and the North West),” said de Schepper.

De Schepper said the estimation of the number of people infected by a single infected person is also rising, which suggests cases may continue to tick up in coming weeks.

She said this prognosis is of particular concern as the start of phase two of SA’s mass vaccination drive is still three weeks away.

In an interview with Inside Education, general-secretary for the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) Mugwena Maluleke said the government does not want education to be divorced from extra mural activity.

Maluleke said government was taking a holistic approach to education and that it has stated that no spectators will be present.

“This means there will be extreme compliance to the regulations given because schools cannot afford not to comply,” said Maluleke.

Maluleke added that Sadtu is not happy that the re-opening of extramural activities and the allowing of contact sport has been dubbed a super spreader event because, “private schools have for a while now been having sports and we haven’t heard of it being a super spreader”.

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