At least 106 new coronavirus (Covid-19) infections had been recorded in North West schools, the provincial education department said on Monday.

The new cases comprised 11 non-teaching staff, 73 teachers and 22 learners. 

The provincial education MEC, Mmaphefo Matsemela, said the affected schools should follow the standard operating procedures regarding Covid-19 infections.

“I want to encourage all our officials throughout the department to follow the standard operating procedures whenever they report cases of Covid-19; school principals should ensure that they keep contact with the local clinic,” she said in a statement.

File picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

“Schools must therefore take steps to circulate information about the disease and its potential transmission within the school community. The Covid-19 cases we have registered shows that the road ahead is long and we need to keep a positive attitude to ensure that we overcome the pandemic,” she said.

She said that to date, 11 schools from Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati and Bojanala districts had reopened after being closed due to cases of Covid-19 being reported. 

The department of health declared the schools safe after they were decontaminated and disinfected.  

In Lethabong, near Rustenburg, Ruskraal Primary School has been closed until July 8, after three teachers tested positive for Covid-19 on June 22.
The school was decontaminated and disinfected and was expected to re-open on June 25, but only seven teachers reported for work. The others were reportedly in self isolation waiting for their Covid-19 test results.

The school governing body’s general secretary, Mokotedi Mokotedi, said parents took a decision to extend the school closure to curb any further possible spread of the virus. 

South Africa’s health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said the outbreak in schools was as a result of learners or educators having unknowingly acquired the virus in their communities, before returning to school. 

File Picture

“It was for this reason that an intense screening and testing programme was instituted in schools, to ensure the early identification of cases before they become super-spreader events.

“As the department of health, we are equally keen to ensure minimal disruption to the school calendar going forward and so we, in collaboration with our experts, are working closely with the  department of education to strengthen protocols so that schools do not close unnecessarily because of identified cases.”

Mkhize said provinces were expected to experience an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the coming weeks. 

“We are closely monitoring all districts, whether they are high-transmission or low-transmission areas. Indeed, the differentiated approach emphasised the need to increase monitoring and surveillance in low-transmission areas.”

-ANA reporter