Calls for S. Africa school closure as students test positive for Covid-19

Thursday June 25 2020

A pupil in Johannesburg has his temperature measured as he enters the school premises on June 1, 2020. Children in South Africa began returning to classrooms on June 8, 2020. PHOTO | MARCO LONGARI | AFP


Calls for the closure of South African schools are growing as 204 people, mostly learners, tested positive at a boarding school in the Eastern Cape.

Makaula Senior Secondary School in KwaBhaca has since been closed, bringing to 132 the number of Eastern Cape schools that are currently shut. Forty were reopened after being disinfected.

This comes just over two weeks after the reopening of schools in South Africa, with the number of infections in the country rising to 106,108 with a death toll of 2,102.

The Educators Union of South Africa (Eusa), a vocal labour union, says the reopening of schools was poorly timed.

“Our appeal is for the Government to review its decision to reopen schools. We opine with great conviction that the decision to reopen primary and high schools was the wrong one,” Eusa said in a statement.

“We contend that the timing is bad as wintry weather brings with it seasonal illness such as influenza. The Coronavirus thrives under cold conditions and will also augment and exacerbate the onset of the flu and tuberculosis.


“Our children and teachers are terrified of contracting the Coronavirus. The anxiety around Covid-19 is palpable. School is about community. There is great concern about the contagious nature of the disease and how this will lead to more suffering of our people in broader society.

“The extra workload with regards to health screening, now foisted onto the teachers, is adding to the anxiety. We ask that schooling be suspended countrywide.”

The National Association of School Governing Bodies said it intends to petition the Department of Education to close schools.

The National Teachers Organisation of South Africa, through their Eastern Cape leader Loyiso Mbinda, said it “warned them the virus thrives in winter.”

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said they “will continue to work hard in schools to make sure that we protect our learners, teachers and employees within schools. It is important to work together to ensure that we beat the virus.”