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Back to school: Angie Motshekga assesses opening of schools decision as covid-19 grips more schools

Delucidpen 06/26/2020

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Owing to the rising cases of corona virus infections in schools, the minister for basic education, Angie Motshekga has addressed the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) where she provided a score card for her reopening of schools decision. According to the minister, of the number of schools that reopened on 8th June, a 98% overall class attendance was noted, and such a figure amounts to parents’ support of the basic education department’s decision to reopen schools. Angie Motsghekga argued that parents would not have sent 98% of their children to school if they were in doubt of the rationality of reopening schools. Since the reopening of schools, the number of corona virus infections have continued to spiral, leading to rising calls for schools to be shut down until the winter season is over. 

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The Daily Maverick has reported that in the Western Cape, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer has confirmed at the NCOP briefing that more than 700 educators and 88 learners had tested positive for corona virus since schools reopened. Western Cape NCOP member Maurencia Gillion also raised concerns over the basic education department’s handling of some covid-19 outbreaks in the province. According to Gillion, it is heartbreaking to get 10 to 20 inquiries per day from parents regarding when there is a positive case at schools; [parents also report] that schools don’t close down, tracing of contacts is not done properly, with principals always having to wait a long time to get directives for the department of basic education. Motshekga however debunked the concerns, arguing that covid-19 outbreaks in schools are handled the same way that an outbreak would be handled in sectors outside of education.

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In her words, ‘even in Parliament, there are 10 staffers who have tested positive; you treat schools the same way that you will treat other place’ [according to the steps outlined by the health department]. According to the Daily maverick, Schäfer said approximately 30 schools are closed every day in the Western Cape because of outbreaks, but reopen within a day or two depending on how swiftly the school can be decontaminated. In further defence of her decisions, Motshekga stated that school closures resulting from reported positive covid-19 cases will become normal, adding that her department is not in any way considering backtracking on the decision to reopen schools. The minister recently signed new directives on phasing in more learners in coming weeks.

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According to the directives, grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6 and 10 are expected to return to school from 6th July, with other remaining grades expected to resume on 3rd August. Reacting to the increasing oppositions and calls for schools to close, the minister said that the country should not expect the system to go back to normality in at least the next two years, as schools are going to be off and on due to the corona virus infections. In her words, ‘we can’t run away from coexisting with this virus, and life has to go on as normal under the difficult conditions’. The coming weeks would likely reveal how successful Angie Motshekga’s plans have been with the phased reopening of schools across the country.

Source: opera.com
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Top Comments
GUEST_2ZL4pgDzw · 06/26/2020
The minister of education is delusional,the covid 19 is spiraling out of control but she still insist our kids should go back to school, is not not getting her monthly salary during this lockdown? go to hell minister you're not normal mentally.

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