More than 1000 learners and over 500 teachers in the Western Cape have tested positive for Covid-19. Over the weekend, the province reported 3 918 new cases, the highest number of virus cases in the country. According to the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), sixteen schools have had to close this week to be disinfected. However, WCED Spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond, says several media reports have exacerbated the figure.
“Two schools in the Northern Suburbs have requested to be decontaminated. So, in the grander scheme of things it isn’t as bad as the media portrays it to be,” said Hammond on VOC’s Breakfast show on Monday.
She said the uptick in infections can be attributed to social events that learners and teachers take part in at the weekends.
“We are not seeing mass spreading as a result of them being at schools but rather what activities learners partake outside of the school premises that are leading to a spike in coronavirus infections,” explained Hammond.
Hammond further added that the increase is understandable as the province is still experiencing it’s third wave.
“We are at the peak of our third wave and parents need to vigilant and act as authoritative figures. It is high time we act responsibility and realize we all have a role to play in keeping the numbers down,” pleaded Hammond.
However, The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) is of the view that overcrowding at schools in the province is the biggest contributing factor to the increase in Covid-19 cases at schools. Spokesperson for Naptosa, Basil Manuel is calling on teachers and support staff to continue practicing all non-pharmaceutical interventions and further calls on the departments to ensure that the overcrowded school situation is being addressed.
“We believe this is due to a large number of learners per class, the overcrowding and the fact that not everybody is observing the correct social distance. It is confirmed that social dance must be at least a meter, and we asking that schools stick to that,” explained Manuel.
The WCED urged anyone with complaints against schools in the province not following Covid-19 safety protocols to contact its district offices.