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Education activist concerned over increasing Covid-19 cases calls for early school closures

Calls for schools to close early this year have come forth as the country goes into a fourth wave of the pandemic. Picture Leon Lestrade.

Calls for schools to close early this year have come forth as the country goes into a fourth wave of the pandemic. Picture Leon Lestrade.

Published Dec 6, 2021

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The increase of Covid-19 cases during the fourth wave of infections has become a concern for education activist Hendrick Makaneta, who is calling for the Gauteng Education Department to consider closing schools early.

"The fourth wave of the pandemic is with us, and numbers do not lie. There is no doubt that Gauteng province is the hardest hit. It therefore makes sense that as activists in the terrain of education we should call on the authorities in the province to do something about this unbearable situation, and the early closure of schools seems to be the most reasonable and right thing to do," Makaneta said.

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The education activist said the 2021 academic year and examinations were already completed, and school attendance was declining. He said closing schools early would protect vulnerable teachers and support staff from contracting the virus.

Makaneta said he was concerned about Gauteng’s schools due to the number of cases reported in the province.

As of Sunday South Africa had recorded 11 125 new cases, of which 7 929 were reported in Gauteng.

Gauteng Education Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said he could not comment on the matter and referred IOL News to the Health Department.

While spokesperson to the Western Cape Education Department MEC Kerry Mauchline, said that as of Monday they had 48 active staff cases (0.1% of staff) and 26 active learner cases (0.002% of all learners).

“This is an increase in cases compared with the past few weeks, and was expected given the resurgence of the pandemic in the province. We are monitoring this closely, and all Covid-19 safety protocols continue to be implemented in our schools,” she said.

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The Western Cape on Sunday recorded 807 cases.

Mauchline appealed to learners and parents to be aware of the risks of Covid-19 at social events, especially given the celebrations planned for the end of the matric exams.

KwaZulu-Natal Education Department spokesperson Kwazi Mshengu said Premier Sihle Zikalala had announced the fourth wave in the province on Monday.

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KZN recorded 687 cases.

"There's nothing new with regards to Coronavirus cases in schools. If the Coronavirus cases are increasing in our communities, so are they in schools because we can't separate schools from the communities.

“However, we've always applied the protocols of the Coronavirus Command Council to make sure that our teachers, learners and administrators are protected against the pandemic,” he said.

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