The South Africa Medical Association (SAMA) says it agrees with the call to close schools during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it cautions that this should only be done in communities with a high number of infections.
Teacher unions, National Teachers Union (NATU), South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and students’ organisation Congress of South African Students (Cosas) have called for schools to close amid the expected COVID-19 peak except for the matric class of 2020.
SAMA President Dr Angelique Coetzee says the controlled environment at schools is better suited to protect learners from being infected in communities with a low number of infections.
“Yes, where there is a pandemic in certain areas with community outbreak in that area. I will caution against the opening of schools for all learners, but if there is no pandemic or outbreak in a certain community it’s quite safe. It is advisable to send the children back to school, you need to be 1.5 metres apart, you need to wear your mask, you need to wash your hands or sanitise. That is much more controllable in a school environment.”
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga was scheduled to expected to meet with unions on Wednesday to discuss the issue.
But, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) says the meeting has been postponed to an unspecified date.
The calls for the closure of schools in South Africa amid a rapid rise in infections following the World Health Organisation’s plea to nations that they should only resume classes once the COVID-19 peak is over.
SA’s cases fast approaching 300 000
South Africa has reported 10 496 new coronavirus cases, bringing the cumulative confirmed cases to 298 292.
The Health Department has also reported a further 174 COVID-19 related deaths, bringing the total to 4 346.
Gauteng still has the most cases with 107 070, with the Western Cape second with 80 199 cases.
More than 2.2 million tests have been conducted countrywide since the virus reached our shores.