Department of Basic Education also has a plan in place to support pupils at risk
CLOSE on 1 500 teachers in the Northern Cape have registered as having comorbidities and are working from home.
This is according to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who was speaking at a ministerial briefing of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
Motshekga pointed out that the Department of Education had to find additional financial resources to augment its teaching cohort, resulting in the creation of new posts to eliminate the possibility of overcrowding.
“These additional substitute posts will also assist in standing in for staff who are absent due to illness, age and comorbidities otherwise known as existing underlying medical conditions. As we know, comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiac disease are the three most commonly associated with serious illness if one contracts Covid-19,” said Motshekga.
“For example, the Free State has received 1 887 applications from teachers who have applied to work from home; Mpumalanga has received 237 applications from teachers and the Northern Cape has registered 1 495 teachers with comorbidities.”
Motshekga said that the department also had a plan in place to support pupils at risk.
Motshekga explained that, according to the Standard Operating Procedures for the Containment and Management of Covid-19 for all schools, a school, and or unit/component/office/department may be closed if someone tested positive for Covid-19. “These are temporary closures to enable the Health Department and us to take over the management of the case including decontamination, contact tracing, and testing amongst others. All suspected and identified cases will immediately be attended to through the Health Ministry’s existing Covid-19 guidelines including testing, contact tracing, self-isolation and quarantining amongst others.”
She appealed to all school communities not to cause unnecessary panic. “There’s no need for panic when a positive case is identified and a school is closed. We will endeavour to communicate which of our schools have been affected, but we won’t release personal information that may put positive patients (pupils or teachers) at risk. It is not the responsibility of principals to communicate school temporal closures to the media. The Health Department has an existing Covid-19 communication protocol of which all of us must abide by it.”
Meanwhile all provinces, including the Northern Cape, are finalising their management plans for the return of grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10, and 11 on July 6.
“We have been burning the midnight oil with all Education MECs. We are satisfied that the system is ready to restart amidst the new Covid-19 induced measures. We appreciate the support, monitoring, and accountability mechanism emanating from the NCOP to keep us focussed on our mission. We shall indeed overcome. As a nation, our resilience is legendary.”