The community of Zone 5 in Seshego last Wednesday closed Alf Makaleng Primary School after reports of a positive Covid-19 case surfaced.
William Sathekge, Public Relations Councillor at the Polokwane Municipality says the School Governing Body (SGB) alerted the EFF of the case on Monday morning and engagements with the departments of Health and Education were held the following day.
According to Sathekge the decision by the department that the case in the school was not a high risk and that there is no need for the school to be closed, was not accepted well by the community and parents.
“The community insisted on the school being closed on Wednesday, as they felt that the confirmed case was a risk. They want the school shut for 14 days, and that all teachers be tested for Covid-19, despite safety measures having been put into place.”
Education Spokesperson, Tidimalo Chuene indicated that the department visited the school on Tuesday, 30 June after receiving reports of a positive case.
Psychological support was provided and the school was disinfected the following day. Chuene confirmed that the school was closed and engagements were underway with the community to have it opened on Monday, 6 July.
Chuene said they have raised the issue of consistency in the interpretation and application, of the standard operating procedures, on dealing with Covid-19 cases in schools.
“This is a matter that is receiving urgent attention from our side. We have noted the need for communities to be well aware of the role played by the Department of Health in guiding schools once positive cases are reported.”
Health MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba says when the Health Department is called to a confirmed case, the response team will assess the risk before anything is done.
The response team will interview the patient and contact tracing will begin.
“Close contacts are not necessarily the people you work with, close contacts are the people that have been exposed to the virus. This is something most people do not understand. If you have followed all the safety guidelines then you are not considered a close contact.”
According to Ramathuba, it is not necessary to close a school, building or facility due to a confirmed case.
“The surface where the person who has contracted the virus was working, should be disinfected along with any communal spaces. Fumigating the whole building is a waste of resources.
The closing of schools is perpetuating stigma, and sending the wrong message to residents.”
Story: Umpha Manenzhe