More than 200 teachers succumb to Covid-19 since start of lockdown
01 September 2020| 12 Muharram 1442| IOL News
A total of 281 teachers, pupils and non-teachers succumbed to Covid-19 pandemic since the start of the lockdown.
This is according to the head of the Basic Education Department Mathanzima Mweli when he appeared before the Basic Education Portfolio Committee on Tuesday.
Mweli was briefing the committee on the re-opening of schools, gave an update on the school nutrition programme and draft directions for pupils with special education needs.
He said the pandemic claimed the lives of 237 teachers, 40 non-teaching staff and four pupils.
Mweli also said a total of 10 048 teachers were infected by the virus, 2331 non-teaching staff and 3270 pupils.
He told MPs that the proportion of the affected teachers, non-teaching staff and pupils against the total population was below 1%.
Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule said the last cohort of pupils returned to school on Monday.
“No major instances have been reported,” Mhaule said,adding that there were some minor glitches.
She also said they knew that there was to be challenges, but there were plans in place for the risks and challenges.
“Anything when it is performed for the first time will have its teething problems. Operating under Covid-19 has never happened in the country hence the regulations,” Mhaule said.
Mweli said countries have dealt with the Covid-19 environment differently with some such as Sweden having never closed schools.
He said even though they have not experienced a high fatality rate that closed down schools like in countries with stringent rules, social distancing was introduced and extra teachers brought in to assist with social distancing.
Mweli said experts had warned that if pupils stayed too much out of schools there could be some drop out rate due to pregnancy and social ills, among others.
He said they were particularly concerned with the Western Cape where attendance to school was at the lowest.
“Western Cape has been reaching out to parents to encourage them to bring learners to schools. We do not want to believe they have taken online learning. The majority don’t have access to online learning,” Mweli said.
Attendance among Grade 7 pupils was lowest in the Westrn Cape at 46.4% followed by Eastern Cape at 67.8% while the rest of other provinces recorded between 72.6% to 87% North West.
In Grade 12, attendance ranged at 70% in the Western Cape, again followed by Eastern Cape at 77.3% with Mpumalanga recording the highest at 94.3%.
Mweli said they were encouraging parents to consider returning their children back to school.
Provinces were in communication with parents and that parents advised on registration procedure for home learning of their children, he added.