By Kaya 959 News
There are growing calls to shut schools amid the spike in COVID-19 cases around the country.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases on Monday confirmed that 5 552 new COVID-19 cases had been recorded.
“The majority of new cases today are from the Gauteng province (67%), followed by the Western Cape (8%) and North West (5%) provinces,” the NICD said.
However, the Department of Basic Education said if schools were to close, that decision would need to be undertaken by Cabinet.
The DBE said that decision would not be in the best interests of learners or teachers.
Closing schools won’t curb the spread
Furthermore, it said closing schools would not help in curbing the spread of the virus.
DBE spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said they were aware of the increase in cases however, there have not been conversations around school closures.
Speaking to EWN, he said adults were attending parties, funerals, and weddings. He said they were the ones dancing close to each other and it was adults who should take responsibility for the spread of the virus.
“Schools are safe. If learners have the virus, they got it from their parents,” he said.
Mhlanga said closing schools would greatly disadvantage learners who were already at a disadvantage because of a shortened curriculum.
“Right now, we have a massive catastrophe on our hands insofar as the learning losses are concerned. Curriculum has been trimmed; even the shortened one, we are not going to finish it,” Mhlanga said.
So far, there were at least 20 schools in Gauteng and 29 in the Northern Cape that were closed after infections were reported.
In Houghton, the King Edward VII School was shut after around 30 boys and three teachers tested positive.
The Gauteng Health Department confirmed that at least 1000 learners and teachers were among 24 000 people in the province who tested positive.
Learning and teaching time
Meanwhile, spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education Geoffrey van der Merwe, said around 69 learners, 25 teachers and nine support staff have contracted COVID.
He said the COVID pandemic continues to impact valuable learning and teaching time.
Last week, EFF leader Julius Malema warned that if the department failed to close all schools, the party would take matters into its own hands.
NICD epidemiologist, Dr Tendesayi Kufa-Chakezha, said with the return of all learners from Grades R – 7 going back to school full time from 26 July, there is time to monitor cases both in adults and in children and make changes as needed.
“In the past we have not seen differences in the extent to which children are affected by COVID-19 between wave 1 and wave 2,” she said.
She said children are much less likely to get ill from COVID-19 compared to adults.
“Since the start of the pandemic children make up 9.4% of all COVID-19 cases and have gotten COVID-19 at a rate that is 5.5 times less than the rate at which adults have been getting COVID-19. Children have made up 3.8% of all COVID admissions and have been admitted at a rate 13 times lower than that in adults,” Kufa-Chakezha said.