Two Cape Town schools temporarily shut after returning teachers test COVID-19 positive

Cape Town – On the first day teachers returned to work, Parkvale Primary School in Valhalla Park, Bishop Lavis, and the Hague Primary School in Delft were temporarily closed on Monday and deep-cleaned after staff tested positive for Covid-19.

Those who had been in close contact with the Covid-19 positive staff will need to self-quarantine for 14 days, the provincial Education Department said.

The phased reopening of schools was set to start with the return of Grade 7 and 12 learners on Monday, while school management teams (SMTs) were expected back yesterday.

“The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) is aware of a positive case of Covid-19 at Parkvale Primary School. The school is being cleaned following procedure.

“Schools have been provided guidelines on cleaning and what to do when there is a positive case of Covid-19, or if someone has been in contact with a positive case of Covid-19,” department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said.

Kerry Mauchline, spokesperson for Education MEC Debbie Schäfer, said the department had received a report of a positive Covid-19 case at The Hague Primary.

“The school will be sanitised accordingly. Those who have been in close contact, for example a handshake or a hug, with a confirmed positive case are required to self-isolate for 14 days,” Mauchline said.

The SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in several provinces, including the Western Cape, urged SMTs to stay home if their schools weren’t able to apply all health safety protocols.

Sadtu in the Western Cape also wants schools to be inspected by the Department of Employment and Labour.

It also wants compliance certificates to be issued for schools once they are ready.

“The WCED has made no attempts to ensure schools and offices are compliant with the directives of the DPSA circular 18 of 2020 and the Department of Labour and Employment gazette no 43257,” they alleged.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the WCED did not have proper measures in place to ensure the safety of teachers and children.

“We are aware that they have been intimidating principals and teachers to go back to school even before the said return date,” he said.

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) called on all members to remain at home until all safety and health matters had been properly attended to. The union said it had given the department until Sunday to demonstrate its readiness to open schools.

Naptosa said their concerns were that some schools had not been cleaned, masks hadn’t been delivered and teachers with comorbidities were not clear on exactly what they were meant to do.

Hammond said yesterday that Eid had impacted on the number of schools that were opened.

“The numbers are skewed taking into account that (yesterday) was the religious holiday of Eid, so many of our educators and principals would have taken leave to celebrate.

“Teachers with comorbidities also have to be accounted for. A better assessment will be made tomorrow (today) and in the coming week,” she said.

Hammond said as per the National Coronavirus Command Council and the Basic Education Department, all teachers were required to go to work.

“We have requested that teachers with comorbidities submit an application for a concession to their principals accompanied with a full medical history report from their medical practitioner, as well as a plan as to how they would propose that they might continue to work from home.”

Wilma Adams, a teacher from The Settlers High School in Bellville said her nervousness about returning to school had subsided because the school has been transparent in liaising with staff.

“I’m fairly confident about coming back to school. The school has kept us well-informed about the measures they’re taking and there’s been constant feedback from the senior managers.” IOL

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