315 teachers have tested positive for COVID-19 at matric marking centres around the country. Director of Public Exams in the Basic Education Department, Priscilla Ogubanjo, says most of the teachers had been sick when they arrived at the centres while a few contracted the virus while there.

Ogubanjo has been updating the media on the matric marking process. She says that 90% of the marking has been completed despite the withdrawal of some markers.

“You find that, as of today, 315 tested positive, but 168 tested positive at the gate. So, they were not even allowed to enter the marking centre. If you look at Limpopo, we have 12 plus 25. The 25 did not test positive but they’re close to someone who was positive. And in some cases, they came to the marking centre and after one day felt they are uncomfortable.”

Some markers pull out at last minute: 

Fatalities 

Eight matric exam markers died after testing positive for COVID-19. Ogubanjo says the three fatalities recorded in KwaZulu-Natal are the highest in the country.

“A number of these markers or fatalities we are speaking about, most arrived already sick; some arrived and the very next day they were sick, which means they were incubating. They had symptoms when they arrived. Unfortunately, the very next day or so, they showed symptoms and normal protocols took place. They were taken to hospitals.”

Reopening of schools

Meanwhile, the department says its two weeks extension for the re-opening of schools was informed by the burden on the healthcare system.  Last week, the government had announced a further extension for the reopening of public schools.

“We are not saying we have made a research to say learners are the perpetrators in these things, but we felt that learners are a group of people when they come to a school, and we look also to the capacity and the stress that the Department of Health is carrying. Our hospitals, our clinics, and all the news that you hear about what is happening, we then felt that let’s hold the reopening of schools by at least two weeks,” says Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Reginah Mhaule.