Erongo schools face tough times

Some schools locked down

14 July 2020 | Education

LEANDREA LOUW





WALVIS BAY

Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis are the only three towns in the country where face-to-face classes are still on pause due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Walvis Bay is currently the epicentre of the pandemic, with more than 500 positive cases recorded at the harbour town. Regional education director Enfriede Stephanus said they are currently trying to persuade the ministry to allow grade 11 and 12 learners to go back at school in these three towns.

“We had a meeting with the various private and state schools in the region where we discussed at length the advantages and disadvantages of letting our learners come back to school with the rising number of Covid-19 cases. However, national exams are right around the corner, and our learners are losing valuable time,” she said.

Stephanus said they are awaiting feedback from the ministry.

“Perhaps by next week, we should have an answer. As for the other grades, we will assess the situation and take it from there.”

‘Disappointed every time’

Nika Steenkamp, a grade nine learner from Walvis Bay, said she misses school and her friends.

“We are given hope that maybe things will start to return to normal, but we will be disappointed every time.

“I miss it so much. I want my school, my friends and even my teachers. I want to play hockey,” she said.

Ilse Palomba, principal of The Dolphin Schools in Walvis Bay, said: “When you hear a child say that it is getting too much and they need school and their friends, you know enough is enough.

“Despite the fact that the numbers are rising, enough is now enough. We need school.”

She, however, admitted that it is a tough balancing act.

“It is very difficult to balance our need for a safe and secure environment for our learners, and our purpose as a school to teach.”

Keep the faith

Omaruru education circuit inspector Engelhardt Uirab encouraged learners in Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis to keep the faith.

“As learners, you need to take any and all opportunities that come your way, and remember that our assistance comes from our Heavenly Father.

“Everything has come to a complete standstill, but that doesn’t mean you have to. I know it is an extremely difficult time, but we need to keep our heads above water,” he said.

Some head back to school

Last week, on 7 July, schools in the rest of the Erongo Region reopened their doors for pre-primary to grade three learners.

According to Uirab, schools in Omaruru, Usakos, Karibib as well as the surrounding areas are prepared to welcome all learners back to school.

“When the schools opened on Tuesday, only about 50% of the learners were back at school. The days after, the number of learners back at school steadily increased. I visited four schools in Omaruru and Karibib and it was great to see how disciplined the learners were and how excited they were to be back at school.”

He added that he is impressed with how schools are handling the ‘new normal’.

On 20 July, grade seven and nine learners will be back at school.

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LEARNING FROM HOME: Learners and teachers have had to come up with creative ways to approach education during the coronavirus pandemic.

Photo: Leandrea Louw