Looming crisis for education department as Covid-19 hits scores of teachers over festive period

28 December 2020 - 10:44
The health ministry has expressed concern about the growing number of teachers who are dying from illnesses related to Covid-19. File photo.
The health ministry has expressed concern about the growing number of teachers who are dying from illnesses related to Covid-19. File photo.
Image: 123RF

The education department has expressed concern about how the growing number of coronavirus infections and fatalities during this festive season may affect the new school year.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said there was a looming “massive problem” which could hit the education ministry as its loses teachers to Covid-19. He said last week, he learnt the lives of 14 teachers had been claimed by the virus in one province. A day later, 18 others died.

“Thirty-two teachers in less than a week all gone from a single province that is reporting. The grieving over these holidays is too much,” Mhlanga said on his Twitter account.

“I fear what the numbers will be when all provinces report the number of school-based staff and teachers who would have passed away as a result of the virus. It is devastating. Let's continue wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands. Compliance is critical,” he said.

Mhlanga’s comments come as President Cyril Ramaphosa held a meeting on Sunday with the National Coronavirus Command Council as SA surpassed one million Covid-19 infections.

Ramaphosa is expected to make a national address to the public soon.

Earlier this month, basic education minister Angie Motshekga conceded the disruptions to teaching caused by Covid-19 will need a longer time frame to address.

Motshekga said the department had to trim its curriculum this year, with the help of experts, to finish the academic year.

“The disruptions of 2020 will need a longer time frame to address. We have a three-year curriculum recovery plan. From 2021, we will be implementing the recovery teaching plan in grades 1 to 12,” she said.

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