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NC dept working round the clock to salvage academic year

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To date a total of 51 schools in the Province have been closed, while 41 educators and 31 pupils have tested positive.

File photo: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Education has indicated it is working around the clock to salvage the academic year but has admitted that the reality of the increasing number of Covid-19 infections is posing a huge challenge.

To date a total of 51 schools in the Province have been closed, while 41 educators and 31 pupils have tested positive.

The department said on Tuesday that Covid-19 is not the only challenge that has resulted in a number of schools in the Northern Cape closing their doors, indicating that other problems are also hampering their plans.

“Five schools in the Province are closed due to erratic water supply which impacts on the health and safety of educators and pupils. The department made temporary arrangements for these pupils to be accommodated at their nearest neighbouring schools, while we attend to the infrastructure challenges. Reakantswe Intermediate School in Windsorton was forced to close on June 14, 2020 as the borehole pump was stolen. We have a contractor on site to attend to this,” said Northern Cape Department of Education spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe on Tuesday.

He added that the department was currently working on implementing alternative measures to ensure that learning continues at affected schools.

“The department has commenced with Saturday classes, with specific focus to support and prepare Grade 12 pupils for the National Senior Certificate examinations. We have developed lessons with activities for the content of terms 2, 3 and 4.  These lessons will be formatted by TeachSA and pupils will access these lessons via the devices that will be issued to all Grade 12 pupils. We are also exploring other intervention options that will unfold later in the year. We will elaborate more on these interventions at a later stage, when these plans have been finalised,” said Van der Merwe.

He said the department was aware that Covid-19 infections would peak over the coming months.

Van der Merwe did not want to divulge whether the department might opt to scrap the academic year, adding that a decision on whether schooling will be discontinued was up to the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and the council team.

Van der Merwe said the provincial department had taken the decision to close schools where Covid-19 infections are reported in an attempt to save lives and curb the spread of infections.

“The closure of schools is impacting on valuable learning and teaching, but it is necessary to curb the spread of Covid-19. Since the reopening of schools on June 8, 2020, 51 schools have been closed due to positive cases reported. To date, 18 schools have been reopened, after they were disinfected and cleaned. In total, 41 educators and 31 pupils have thus far tested positive for Covid-19 in our schools. We are continuing to follow our standard operating procedures which are in line with the national Covid-19 regulations and guidelines. We will continue to monitor our schools and act in the best interest of our educators and pupils as we navigate through this difficult period. 

“We once more appeal to educators, parents and pupils to practise good hygiene, main social distancing and to always wear your mask,” he concluded.