Predictably, the poor will suffer the carnage of schools ...

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Predictably, the poor will suffer the carnage of schools reopening

Government’s decision should have been based on information from parents, teachers, not stripped-down data

Columnist

SA’s government reopened its schools while we were still climbing towards the peak of coronavirus infections and now that gooey brown stuff has hit the fan. It was a reckless decision from start to finish based on an overreliance on stripped-down statistical data and the complete neglect of the social science data on schools as organisations. Economists and some epidemiologists made the claim that children are less likely to fall ill and die, and that the social costs of staying at home are higher than if children were returned to school.

We are now paying a heavy price for this short-sighted decision, made worse by the compulsion of bureaucrats to restore order, certainty and predictability in the administration of schools. After all, there is a CAPS curriculum to cover, there are end-of-year exams that must be written, and the minister must deliver the triumphant matric results (this, too, is predictable) on schedule so that the president can echo the lies in the state of the nation address (Sona).

A school in KwaBhaca (Mount Frere), in the Eastern Cape, saw more than 180 pupils testing positive for coronavirus infections. More than 30 schools in Buffalo City, the municipality that includes East London and King William’s Town, shut down after 30 positive cases were identified. More than 200 schools nationwide have closed. Principals of disadvantaged schools on the Cape Flats, where infections are surging, have pleaded with government to postpone the reopening of schools. On the ground, there is chaos and distress. “The anxiety is real ... it’s an abnormal situation,” said the principal of Cape Town’s Heathfield High School in one media report...

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