The Western Cape government is proud on having responded to the Covid-19 pandemic in a way that is both data-led and evidence-driven, says Premier Alan Winde, who doesn’t believe that the same can be said for the national government.
Winde said yesterday the public school closures announced on Thursday night by President Cyril Ramaphosa will have a greater negative impact on children’s safety than if they were to go to school – Grade 12 pupils will remain at home for the next week and return on August 3 and Grade 7s return on August 10, with other grades having a break until August 24.
“We believe that the announcement is not based on scientific evidence and reasoning. As a province, we pride ourselves on having responded to the pandemic in a way that is both data-led and evidence driven,“ Winde said.
“We understand that for many parents, sending their children to school results in a lot of fear and anxiety. The Western Cape government and our teachers have worked hard to ensure that those parents who do choose to keep their children at home are able to do so.
“But for many other parents, sending their children to school is the only option and the closure will impact these children the hardest.
“Many parents who have returned to work will struggle to find safe spaces for children who are not at school over this period, putting them at risk of injury, accidents or abuse.
“At a time when the economy is under significant strain and we are facing an unemployment crisis, many of these parents cannot afford to stay at home for four weeks.
“The closure may also impact children who rely on the meals they receive at school.
“While the Western Cape is the only province to have continued to feed learners throughout the lockdown period and while schools were closed, we know that it is easier for children to access meals when they are attending schools daily. In the face of major food security threats across the country, these daily meals are essential for many children.
“Additionally, daily stimulation and learning is necessary to ensure that our children do not fall behind. For many working parents, home schooling, and at home learning activities like reading, are not possible.
“Most impacted will be poor learners who don’t have access to online learning materials and the internet to continue to learn during this time.
“As Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier outlined in his adjustment budget yesterday, the Western Cape Department of Education has been allocated R310 million in funding to procure protective equipment and to sanitise schools.
“We have also seen schools across the province put in every effort to ensure that children are safe.
“We can all help to slow the spread and ensure that we keep ourselves, and our loved ones safe by washing our hands, regularly cleaning down surfaces and high traffic areas in our homes and workplaces, correctly wearing a mask so that it covers both the nose and mouth, and social distancing whenever we leave home.”
The Western Cape yesterday recorded an additional 29 deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19-related deaths in the province to 2 817.
As of 1pm yesterday, the Western Cape had 11 785 active cases of Covid-19, with a total of 88 499 confirmed cases and 73 897 recoveries.