Covid-19 invades high school

As the phased reopening of schools begins today, with learners in grades seven, eight and nine in all regions except Khomas returning to class, a teachers' union has warned of a further spike in Covid-19 infections countrywide, while pointing at the shocking state of affairs at St Joseph's Roman Catholic...

07 September 2020 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES

WINDHOEK



Twenty-two learners, a teacher and three institutional workers have tested positive for Covid-19 at St Joseph's Roman Catholic High School in Döbra, while 27 more learners are in quarantine.





This was confirmed by the Khomas education director, Paulus Lewin, who said the situation was under control at the settlement's high school, situated less than 25 kilometres north of Windhoek.

According to him the afflicted learners have completed their final exams while additional safety measures are in place.

“We take it as it goes. The management there are managing the situation very well at this moment. The moment something like this happens we close the school, but our interventions vary.





“We are in regular contact with the ministry of health and its surveillance team. We are cautious not to stir up panic which will affect the entire process negatively,” he said.

Do not fear

The executive director of the education ministry, Sanet Steenkamp, says these incidents cannot be avoided as one never knows when the virus will strike.

According to her it is matter of being prepared to mitigate and manage the situation and her office remains in constant contact with school managements.

“Standing operating procedures (SOPs) have been sent to the school as to what to do and how to work closely with the health ministry,” she said.

She added that the government had agreed on an advocacy campaign to provide scientific facts to deal with the increasing fear.



Misinformation

A voice-note reportedly sent out by a teacher at the Döbra school informed parents that “ten days after [being] swabbed, if you do not feel sick or have no more symptoms then you are declared as recovered. If after ten days you no longer feel sick, the virus in your body is dead and you cannot transmit it to the next person”.

But the health minister, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, said yesterday that only health officials can declare a person recovered and will provide such a person with a clearance certificate.

School principal Elfriede Mahua-Masule declined to comment on the matter.



Carelessness

Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) secretary-general Mahongora Kavihuha said Namibia must expect a spike of infections in schools after today's reopening. Learners in grades seven, eight and nine will return to school today in all regions except Khomas.

Learners in grades four, five and six will return to schools on 14 September and this will include the Khomas Region. The Khomas Region will also commence face-to-face classes for learners in grades seven, eight and nine on this day. Classes will resume for pre-primary to grade three learners on 21 September.

Kavihuha accused the Döbra school of misleading the parents and learners about the dynamics of Covid-19.

“What is very funny is that they keep the learners under their supervision and if they realise the learners got the virus, they send them home, using whatever excuse and now dump the learner with the family,” he said.

Kavihuha added that the decision to reopen schools was irresponsible and insensitive. By Saturday, Namibia has recorded a total of 8 514 Covid-19 cases and 87 corona-related deaths, with a further update expected by late yesterday.

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