The Mpumalanga Education Department has closed seven schools after 18 new COVID-19 cases were reported. Hoerskool Rob Ferriera in White River is one of the affected schools.

The department has expressed concern about the number of infections. Spokesperson, Gerald Sambo, has urged schools to continue observing the COVID-19 health protocols.

“Out of the 1 700 schools  we have in the province,  seven schools reported 18 new cases. We would like to urge our schools to be vigilant not to let their guards down and follow the COVID-19 protocols as well as the standard operating procedures that are prescribed by the department of basic education and department of health. We are working closely with the department of health to monitor the situation,” says Sambo.

The Department of Basic Education has proposed that all primary school learners return to school when schools re-open in the third quarter.

Sambo says they are waiting for a final pronouncement by the Minister on the matter.

“The COVID-19 situation is a worrisome. The situation not to schools, but to everybody in the country looking at the fact that we are living in the new normal where things had to be done in way that we were not used to. What we can indicate is that the proposal that is coming is also guided by officials from the department of health who are experts and understanding how this pandemic works and we hope the guidance that are going to give to us will assist us in understanding what is the way forward that is to be taken. So we will wait a final pronouncement by the minister,” he says.

In Gauteng, the department says over 2 000 schools have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic over a period of time.

Over 1 000 learners are said to have tested positive at public schools in the past weeks.

The province is already experiencing a third wave of infections with an average rate of around 3 500 new infections recorded per day.

The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) Spokesperson, Steve Mabona, says, “You will have one or two cases in a school. That is why we are saying over 2 000 schools are affected. But we are managing with the Department of Health.

Where we are forced to close a school they will recommend after conducting an assessment to say looking at the number of cases and those that are affected. Meaning, they are supposed to be isolating. So the numbers probably will dictate that we close a school. We have been closing schools between one or three days.”

Government has indicated that teachers will be the next in line to receive the vaccine. A move that has been widely welcomed. – Report by Motsebi wa Monareng 

Reaction to mounting calls for schools to be closed amid rising COVID-19 cases: