Teacher unions in KZN raise alarm over growing number of COVID infections at various matric exam marking centres

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Teacher unions in KwaZulu-Natal have called for the Education Department to halt marking in centres that have not been adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols. This is after a marker died due to COVID-19-related illnesses in Estcourt in the Midlands.

Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Education says they have decontaminated the marking centre.

Teacher unions in KwaZulu-Natal have raised concerns about the safety of their members at matric exam marking centres. The recent death of one of the markers as a result of COVID-19 at the Estcourt marking centre has sparked an outcry.

The Educators Union of South Africa’s general secretary Siphiwe Mpungose says they cannot compromise the safety of markers.

“We are calling for the suspension of the marking until all safety protocols are adhered to. We cannot risk any further life than the one that had been lost and those who have been infected because surely people who were in the same room with the marker, who had just passed away at Escourt marking centre, they need to be checked and I’m sure some of them will come out positive. We are saying let’s then suspend (marking) in those marking centres – where there is crisis – until safety is guaranteed.”

Meanwhile, the Department of Education in KwaZulu-Natal says they have decontaminated the Escourt marking centre.

Department Spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi says markers were also screened and tested.

“They were recommending that yesterday we would finish at 1 instead of after 5, so as to give space to the health department practitioners to come in and do the screening, testing and decontamination of the marking centres, which we are in agreement with. Hence even our HOD was in contact with the HOD for the Department of Health in KwaZulu-Natal to arrange such and we can confirm that yesterday the marking centre where an educator succumbed to COVID-19-related sickness was then screened and decontaminated and testing did take place.”

The KZN Department of Education says they will be rolling out screening and testing in other districts to ensure the safety of all markers. The department has also confirmed that marking is continuing.

Naptosa and Sadtu concerned that teachers are not in the first group to receive COVID-19 vaccine: