EDITORIAL | We need a rational school of thought on kids and Covid-19
It’s different when your own child falls ill, but the facts should inform our decisions around opening classrooms
The return of an estimated six million pupils to school in the next week is a highly divisive matter. Those opposed point out that already 500 schools have been affected by Covid-19 outbreaks since Grade 7 and 12 pupils went back. Those in favour point out that children fall in a low-risk category and need to go to school, even if it is mainly to get a meal a day. Basic education minister Angie Motshekga wrote in the Sunday Times this past weekend that “we shouldn’t allow panic to guide public policy”.
Also on Sunday, it was reported that a gang of 13 people – including a ward councillor and a 77-year-old pensioner – was arrested in Mpumalanga after driving to schools and forcefully removing children from classrooms because they were scared the kids would contract Covid-19. This illustrates just how intense the fear is in some communities.
The worst-case scenario played out in the Eastern Cape this past week where 240 pupils and staff tested positive at Makaula Senior Secondary in Mount Frere. The principal blamed the pupils and the education department blamed the school, saying it did not follow proper sanitation protocols. This is an extreme example of how things can go wrong and should serve as a stark reminder to all schools not to disregard the strict protocols put in place by the department. ..