Covid-19 has infected 2,740 teachers since return to school: Motshekga

05 July 2020 - 16:33 By TimesLIVE
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. File photo.
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga said on Sunday that less than one percent of the country's teachers had been infected by the coronavirus since the return of grade 7 and 12 pupils on June 8.

That translated to 2,740 infected teachers out of about 440,000 teachers in SA.

During the same period, 1,260 pupils had been infected by the virus, about 0.01% of pupils in total.

The minister was giving a briefing on the affect of the pandemic and state of readiness of schools ahead of the return of grade 6 and 11 pupils — and some grade R pupils — on Monday.

“Not surprising, the highest number of infections, followed the national trends, with the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng having recorded the highest number of infections for both teachers and learners,” said Motshekga.

“We unfortunately lost the lives of 11 teachers and four non-teaching staff in the Eastern Cape to the virus; as well as three learners, who are reported to have succumbed to Covid-19.”  

“We must continuously remind South Africans that schools are a direct microcosm of societies in which they are located. On a daily basis, we see an unprecedented rise in Covid-19 infections, due to a number of factors, including non-compliance with the health, safety and social distancing protocols on Covid-19.

“What we see in our communities, is the same phenomenon that is beginning to creep into our schools. Since our grade 7 and 12 learners returned to school on June 8 2020, 968 of the 25,762 schools were closed and reopened.

“This is almost 4% of the total number of public and independent schools in our country.”

Motshekga also said:

• About 10,000 of the teachers employed by the state who were at high risk of infection due to age or comorbidities had been given approval to work from home.

• In the Eastern Cape 910 schools needing it had received proper sanitation as had 453 schools in Limpopo.

• Repairs were being carried out at 1,718 schools that were vandalised across the country during the lockdown.

• Schools would have to adopt innovative approaches to timetabling and classroom management to ensure children could return but at the same time maintain social distancing measures; and

• Provinces not ready to receive grade R pupils on Monday would have to devise plans to reincorporate them by not later than the end of July.

Motshekga announced on Thursday that only grades R, 6 and 11 would return on Monday.

This was a change to earlier plans gazetted on June 29 stating that grades 1, 2, 3 and 10 would also return on Monday.

The basic education department admitted to cutting the number of pupils returning to class because the experience of the past month had indicated that schools would be overwhelmed, reported the Sunday Times.

At least three provinces have opted to halt the return to school of grade R pupils, SowetanLIVE reported on Sunday.