Cabinet to be told to close schools for 3 weeks amid Covid-19 peak - report

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga
PHOTO: Netwerk24
  • Cabinet is expected to be advised to close schools across South Africa for three weeks.
  • The announcement will be tabled on Thursday, with an announcement expected soon thereafter.
  • This as teachers' unions have been engaging with government to close schools amid a surge in Covid-19 infections.

The National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) is expected to advise Cabinet to close schools around the country for three weeks.

This according to a report by Times LIVE, which quotes "impeccable sources within the teacher unions" who attended a meeting chaired by Deputy Minister of Basic Education Reginah Mhaule on Wednesday night.

The NCCC will reportedly table the recommendation to Cabinet on Thursday, and either Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga or President Cyril Ramaphosa will then announce Cabinet's decision.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga told News24 consultations with the sector's stakeholders were continuing ahead of another Cabinet meeting scheduled for Thursday.

Motshekga is expected to give feedback to Cabinet on Thursday before an announcement is made.

According to Times LIVE's sources, Cabinet will finalise the matter on Thursday.

"What prevails now is three weeks on the table," a source reportedly said.

'Anxiety and uncertainty'

The wait for Cabinet to announce its decision on whether schools will close or remain open amid the Covid-19 surge is causing more "anxiety and uncertainty", News24 reported earlier.

This is according to the country's two largest teachers' unions – the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa).

The two unions told News24 the wait was too long, causing unease among teachers and pupils.

Sadtu and Naptosa, along with other unions, met with Motshekga last week for a series of consultations to find a way forward for schools amid the peak in Covid-19 infections.

Following consultations with stakeholders, which also included School Governing Body organisations, Motshekga took their representations to the NCCC and subsequently Cabinet.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the unions were informed that Motshekga was still in meetings with Cabinet on Monday and Tuesday.

Infections on the rise

He said they had made it clear to the department that there was a sense of urgency, especially as infections were on the rise.

By Thursday morning, South Africa had recorded 572 new Covid-19-related deaths, the biggest spike in a single day, with most fatalities recorded in the Eastern Cape.

The cumulative number of deaths is now 5 940, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Wednesday night.

The total number of confirmed infections in the country is now 394 948.

The number of recoveries currently stands at 229 175, which translates to a recovery rate of 58%.

The total number of tests conducted to date is 2 585 474.

 - Compiled by Riaan Grobler

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