Covid-19 numbers grow at Eastern Cape Schools

Sadtu in the Eastern Cape has repeatedly called on the education department to overturn its decision to reopen schools.
Sadtu in the Eastern Cape has repeatedly called on the education department to overturn its decision to reopen schools.     
Image: SAMORN TARAPAN/123rf.com

 

More Eastern Cape schoolchildren have contracted Covid-19, sparking fears  the provincial education system will not be able to cope as the pandemic spreads.

The 204 pupils and staff who tested positive for the virus at Makaula Senior Secondary School in KwaBhaca  this week appears to be just the start of a long and difficult road ahead, as schools in Ngcobo and Mthatha have now also reported cases.  

There is already a growing movement among teachers in the Western Cape to have schools closed, and  indications are that others will follow their lead in the rest of the country.  

Sadtu in the Eastern Cape has repeatedly called on the education department to overturn its decision to reopen schools.     

Nyanya High School, one of the best performing schools in Ngcobo, now has 17 Covid-19 cases, according to  headmaster Khulile Qamata.

Other pupils at the school have been tested by Eastern Cape health workers.  

“We have suspended academic tuition to focus on ensuring the safety of everyone in the schoolyard,” Qamata said.

The suspension includes cancelling the phasing in of Grade 9 pupils on Monday.

Mthatha's Jonguhlanga Junior Secondary School has also been closed after a teacher tested positive. It will reopen on June 30.

In a letter to parents on Monday, school management advised parents to take their children to be tested on the Phelophepha train.

But parent Noxolo Mbatha told DispatchLIVE  when they arrived at the train's location, there were too few nurses available to test the pupils, who numbered more than a 100.

What has heightened Mbatha's concern is that her child told her the teacher who contracted the virus had been coughing badly on Friday.    

 

“My child told me the teacher was in her class to greet them and when they could not hear what she was saying, she took off her  mask. She said the teacher was coughing so badly,” Mbatha said.

Another Jonguhlanga  parent, Nokwanda Mabhodli, said she would rather her daughter was kept back a year than run the risk of contracting the virus.

Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said a health department official, on seeing that the train could not cope with testing the pupils, organised a mobile clinic to be sent to a field next to the school. Here, pupils were screened and some teachers tested.

Health bosses are coming under fire for not decontaminating schools properly and ensuring schools are properly serviced.

Noncedo Combined School in Ducats, outside East London, is split between two locations — a house for primary school children  in Ducats South and a property for high school pupils in Ducats North.

Parents say  the primary school premises have no flushing toilets,  water or fencing.

SGB member Soyisile Nyimbane said according to a school management directive, the school’s Grade 7 pupils were meant to resume learning at the high school premises.

“We don’t know what happened to that plan. The primary school is in no condition to have learners on those premises. The house where they are taught is run down and needs renovations. The primary school uses the bucket system and water is scarce. The safety of the children is also compromised as there is no fencing around the school."

Another SGB member, Phumza Sonqela, said there was no “proper” cleaning equipment at the primary school to ensure its Covid-19 compliance.

“One of the parents who spoke to the SGB said they had used just water with no soap to clean the school.

“To make matters worse, there was an ‘unofficial’ caretaker who was staying on the primary school premises. The caretaker died this past week. We don’t know if it was Covid-19 related, but if it was, then the school is a contaminated site.” 

Pulumani had not responded to a query about the school at the time of going to print on Thursday.


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