Schools are safe, US embassy says

03 August 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKES



WINDHOEK

An investigation has found that Covid-19 outbreaks were more common in Namibian schools with a hostel than those without.

In a statement, the United States embassy’s communication department said it also found that outbreaks in schools occur parallel to cases in the community, which means schools are not isolated super-spreader venues but rather part of the bigger picture of community transmission.

The statement added that it is, however, not easy to deal with the situation at hostels, as learners alternatively have to travel up to 300km from the nearest school, and those living closer do not have transport to get to school.

“While schools have made every effort to implement Covid-19 prevention strategies in hostels, the nature of this ‘home’ environment makes it difficult to ensure that children wear masks and keep their distance all the time.

“Furthermore, the recommendation to reduce class sizes is not compatible with the hostel set-up as it means that these learners have even more time in an environment where - if present - Covid-19 is more likely to spread than in the classroom.

“Shutting hostels is also not an option as they meet the needs of families that would otherwise be unable to send their children to school,” the statement read.

Role models

It added that good intervention that has helped the situation includes teachers who model good mask etiquette and require their learners to do the same as well as hand-washing facilities, which are now common in schools.

“While there were some cases where teachers and learners were not paying sufficient attention to prevention protocols, these lapses were addressed through group meetings and increased training and information,” the statement read.

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