At least 15 more Eastern Cape schools have been closed due to Covid-19.
A WhatsApp message listed 13 schools in the OR Tambo coastal district of education and two in Ngcobo under Chris Hani east.
Last week, DispatchLIVE reported that 20 schools in the Buffalo City Metro (BCM) had to closed after teachers, pupils and non-teaching staff tested positive.
Provincial Sadtu secretary Chris Mdingi confirmed the latest closure of schools in Transkei, a situation he described as “disturbing”.
Schools that are said to have shut down in Libode are Qanqiso JSS, Samson SPS, Dalibhunga JSS and Bomvini SPS.
In Port St Johns, Sita SPS and Vulindlela JSS are said to have also been closed while Pondolwendlovu SSS, Ludaka SPS and Mabetshe SPS have also reportedly closed.
In Mqanduli, Zanci JSS, Upper Mpako SSS and Gengqe SPS have been closed and in Ngcobo, Zilimbola JSS and Pakamani were forced to close due to the pandemic.
DispatchLIVE has also received a copy of a letter from Umtata High School dated June 13 stating that grade 12 classes had been suspended until further notice.
The letter, which was addressed to parents, stated that a pupil who had attended school on June 8 had been in contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
The school advised the parents to keep the child at home till tests had been undertaken. “Results for the child came out positive in the afternoon on Friday June 12,” the letter stated.
Qanqiso JSS principal Thenjiwe Mvu confirmed the school had been closed but said there were no positive cases.
Instead, she said the decision was influenced by the fact that teachers travelled in the back of bakkies used as taxis to get to school.
“This [closing down] was to allow teachers to go for screening and testing for Covid-19. This is because we use the same cars as teachers to get to our different schools,” she said.
Dalibhunga JSS principal Eric Ngcwabe said there was a case where someone at another school was said to have tested positive. He said teachers used the same bakkies as transport, it had been decided they should undergo tests as a safety precaution.
Ngcwabe declined to confirm whether his school had been closed down or not.
“We are undergoing tests on Wednesday and on Monday [next week]. We will hear the way forward from district officials of the department of education.”
Meanwhile, a pupil has tested positive for Covid-19 at Nyanga High in Ngcobo. The school, however, remains open.
Principal Khulile Qamata said the pupil tested on June 10 after teachers noted the pupil’s high temperature. Test results came back positive on Tuesday.
“We asked for advice from health officials and those pupils that she was in contact with were tested. We are awaiting their results and we will be guided by the tests results,” Qamata said.
Questions had been sent to provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani regarding the closure of schools. At time of writing on Wednesday, he had still not responded.
Mdingi said the union had raised concerns about the readiness of schools to open.
“We have been saying let us not rush to reopen schools as we felt they were not ready.
“We were called names and were heavily criticised for our stance.
“It’s not that we did not want to work but we felt the safety of the people should have been a priority.”
Sadtu’s provincial executive was due to hold an urgent meeting on Wednesday to discuss the way forward.
The outcome of the meeting was not known at the time of publication.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA provincial CEO Loyiso Mbinda said the reopening of schools had merely created a fertile ground for the spread of the coronavirus.
“It has created a situation for a chance of spread on a larger scale quicker than if they [pupils] were not in that [school] environment.”
Mbinda said there were concerns the situation mighty become uncontrollable with the scheduled return of more grades on July 6.
By Sikho Ntshobane – DispatchLive