North West education dept confident schools will reopen as planned after principal tests positive

  • The North West education department says it is confident its systems will detect any symptoms of Covid-19 at schools  and that they will reopen as planned on Monday.
  • A 56-year-old principal from a school in the province is in quarantine for 14 days after testing positive for coronavirus.
  • The school has been shut and contact tracing is under way.

The North West education department says it is confident that schools will open for pupils to return on Monday, although it cannot rule out any Covid-19 cases.

The department said this is despite a school being shut after a principal tested positive for the coronavirus.

In a statement on Wednesday, the provincial department said the 56-year-old principal reported he was unwell and consulted a doctor on Monday. He was then tested for the virus after showing symptoms, and the results returned positive on Tuesday.

The tracing of people who were in contact with the principal was under way.

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Reacting to the situation, North West Education MEC Mmaphefo Matsemela said: "As the department, we are very much shocked to learn about [this] news. We are working with the Department of Health, who has advised us to close the school with immediate effect. We will rely on their expert advice throughout this period."

Although the particular school will not reopen until all necessary safety and cleaning measures have been concluded, the department's spokesperson, Elias Malindi, said they were hopeful pupils would return to school next week.

Malindi said there were measures to detect any coronavirus symptoms among pupils, teaching and non-teaching staff, as well as anyone else entering school premises.

"Looking forward into next week, we are confident. But we cannot rule out anything that could also happen. With all preparations, we remain optimistic that next week we will be able to carry out all our processes," he said.

Malindi added the department had been monitoring various schools across the province. He said they had received personal protective equipment and cleaning was under way.

Grade 7 and 12 pupils are expected to return to school from Monday, 8 June after the department decided not to go ahead with the reopening on Monday, 1 June, reasoning that not all of them were at the same level of readiness. Some were not yet compliant with Covid-19 prevention protocols.

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