We Need To Close Schools Now, says Union

We Need To Close Schools Now, says Union

With Covid-19 cases rising in South Africa and with more and more schools seeing Covid outbreaks, Unions are now calling for schools to close now. The previous waves saw many educators lose their lives to Covid, which Unions want to avoid with this wave.


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Covid cases are on the rise in South Africa which has now prompted many to call for schools to close. In the past few weeks, schools were seen closing in various provinces due to Covid outbreaks amongst staff and learners.

Schools in the Northern Cape have seen 116 new positive cases in the past week with the Educational Department in the province saying that this includes educators, learners and support staff. The province has seen a consistent increase in cases recently.

Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) National Media Executive, Andre de Bruyn, said:

Educators Union just feel that schools are not adequately prepared for another wave and over 2000 teachers died in the previous wave so we just feel that, especially your poorer schools, are not adequately prepared to have another wave.

He continued to say that they aren't the only union with this opinion as he explains, "NAPTOSA also said exactly the same thing".

The Union's immediate goal is to flatten the curve, especially in hot spots and "have a break in transmission, at least at a school level".

He blames the increase on people not following the rules when they are being social.

It's possible for schools to curb child-to-child infection as well as child-to-adult infection so we just feel that in especially in areas where you have high infection rates, we need to close the schools now ... it does not need to be for a lengthy period, it just needs to be until we've just made a dent in the upward curve of this infection rate.

Teachers with comorbidities at school and them being at school could be a danger. Government did however make provisions for teachers with comorbidities to stay at home.

De Bruyn also said that there has been insufficient evidence to support the belief that school children does not impact the increase of the curve.

He also said that with the Spanish Influenza pandemic, closing schools decreased the number of cases and the same happened with the H1N1 virus in 2009.

"We're not saying learning must stop, we're saying educating must stop. We can still educate like we have been doing," said de Bruyn.

He did however acknowledge that there are inequalities when it comes to online learning and that something needs to be done.

School Feeding Schemes

There is a fear that should schools close, this will leave children who depend on school feeding schemes for a meal, hungry. Research has also shown that the lack of food increases school drop out rates.

However, in the second wave, school feeding schemes continued to operate even when schools were closed.

Gauteng, the Free State and Eastern Cape are now in the third wave with predictions of the rest of the country joining in coming weeks.

 

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