Covid-19: Motshekga concerned about physical distancing in primary schools

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Pupils line up to get a temperature check at Monde Primary School in Ekhuruleni.
Pupils line up to get a temperature check at Monde Primary School in Ekhuruleni.
Gallo Images/Laird Forbes
  • Primary schools are having trouble adhering to the one metre physical distancing measure.
  • Primary schools have been asked to accommodate all their learners.
  • Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is to suggest a different measure to the NCCC, based on medical advice. 

A day after primary schools were asked to receive full classes, there were problems in adhering to the one metre physical distancing rule, which Cabinet implemented.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said she would raise the issue with the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC).

"I can say we are experiencing some problems with social distancing. Cabinet has allowed us a metre, but, in some instances, a metre is not good enough," she told the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on Tuesday.

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"We have a good advisory from the national advisory committee, saying we can safely reduce the distance, and that is what I need to present to the NCCC."

She left the meeting early to join an NCCC meeting.

The department is implementing several non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), including:
  • Physical distancing; regular hand washing or sanitising;
  • Proper wearing of face masks; cleaning and sanitising of frequently touched surfaces;
  • Effective screening to prevent anyone with Covid-19 symptoms from entering school premises;
  • Isolating those who show Covid-19 symptoms in schools; and
  • Limiting visitors to schools.

These measures are supposed to work in conjunction, as none are effective on its own.

"The sector is working towards implementing all NPIs strictly, to control the transmission of the virus in schools," reads the department's presentation to the committee.

READ | Is it your ethical duty to get vaccinated? We ask the experts

The department provided mobile classrooms, where finances allow, as an interim measure to ensure social distancing. This is, however, not viewed as a long-term solution to overcrowding in schools.

The bulk of the mobile classrooms are in use in KwaZulu-Natal, after schools were damaged during the recent unrest.

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