Home South African Union wants Ramaphosa to close schools as Covid-19 infections soar

Union wants Ramaphosa to close schools as Covid-19 infections soar

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The Public Servants Association has reiterated its call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to order that learning institutions close and to amend the academic year

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

THE PUBLIC Servants Association, which represents thousands of teachers and administrative staff in schools across South Africa, on Tuesday reiterated its call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to order that learning institutions close in light of surging new Covid-19 infections.

The country has to date recorded 287 796 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since March, out of which 4 172 people have died while 138 241 have recovered, translating to a recovery rate of 48 percent.

South Africa closed all schools in mid March in response to the pandemic, with most pupils resorting to virtual classes, but has since reopened them on a phased basis since June.

In a statement on Tuesday, the PSA said should schools remain open and all grades return to class, some 18 million pupils would move around daily to attend school, resulting in family members being more exposed to the virus.

It said it had written a letter to Ramaphosa highlighting that several teachers had already succumbed to the virus, while others, including principals and support staff, were infected and experiencing severe symptoms in some cases.

“With more grades returning to the schooling system and the current infection rate increasing steeply, more educators and support staff will run the risk of being infected,” it said.

“There is no rationale for limiting the number of people who attend church services and funerals, but schools with more than 1 000 pupils will be open. Many schools now have deceased educators and pupils who are traumatised.”

The association said it made no sense to keep schools open when the higher education sector had already amended its current academic year to conclude next March.

“With the new student intake only taking place from March 2021, the Department of Basic Education effectively has leeway until early 2021 to conclude the academic year,” it said.

“The PSA therefore urges President Ramaphosa to urgently intervene and close schools and amend the academic year for schools to coincide with the higher education sector to curtail the spread of the virus to lessen the impacts on the health system and prevent the loss of lives.”

– African News Agency (ANA)