Gauteng wants intermittent lockdown as Covid-19 surges: David Makhura

Gauteng premier David Makhura on Thursday said the province was aiming to introduce an intermittent lockdown and slow down the reopening of schools. At the same time, education minister Angie Motshekga announced that not all grades would be returning on Monday as planned                    Picture: paylessimages / 123RF Stock Photo

Gauteng premier David Makhura on Thursday said the province would make submissions to the national coronavirus command council to reintroduce stringent measures to try slow the spread of Covid-19, including an intermittent lockdown and slowing down of the reopening of schools.

He was speaking during a meeting of the provincial coronavirus command council, where he said the province had seen a sharp spike in infections and recorded the highest number of active cases.

“We have to do whatever it takes to contain the spread of the pandemic,” said Makhura.

More than 1.3-million pupils were expected to return to school on Monday across the country – but that now seems to have changed.

Makhura’s comments came just before basic education minister Angie Motsheka announced on Thursday that only three of the planned grades would return to class as scheduled from next week.

Makhura said the slowing down of the reopening of school meant the province would consider “the alternate-day approach” which would see pupils attending schools on different days.

“This division into two cohorts could be determined on a grade basis (relatively equal distribution), on a phase basis or on a combination of the two, depending on the availability of sufficient educator resources and the orientation (small/overcrowded) of the school,” he said.

“If conducted on a grade basis, all learners in each class are split into two and will be expected to attend school on alternate days.

“If conducted on a phase basis in primary school, learners in the foundation phase (grade R-3) will attend on one day and the remaining grades (4-7) on the next day.

“If conducted on a combination basis, entire grades cutting across the phases would be requested to attend on one day and the remainder on the next.”

Teacher unions were reportedly requesting for a revised, slower approach for the resumption of pupils to allow for the school system to adjust.

In a bid to salvage the 36 weeks left of the academic year, Makhura said pupils who remained at home needed to be given adequate support.

“Conference calls to be scheduled at specific times for learners to ask questions, where necessary. Sanitisation rules apply. Examination will be written at school within social distancing regulations. In exceptional cases, continuous assessment will be used,” he said.

Makhura warned the communities had been showing signs of fatigue in adhering to lockdown regulations.

“Through behavioural change we can mitigate and minimise the impact of the pandemic . However, there is an observable lowering of the guard – there are several funeral and marches where social distancing and wearing of masks are not observed. Citizens and communities are showing signs of fatigue at the time we need their cooperation and active observance of the hygiene and social distancing measures.”

By Nonkululeko Njilo – TimesLIVE

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