We must avert potential academic disaster, says Motshekga as teacher vaccination plan starts
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Johannesburg - The Basic Education sector vaccination programme is expected to start this week as schools across the country remain open despite the rising cases of Covid-19.
Minister Angie Motshekga held a media briefing on Friday to provide an update on the sector’s response to the impact of Covid-19 to schooling.
“Doing business under Covid-19 means that one needs to also strike a balance between saving lives and livelihoods. In the case of the Basic Education sector, this means that we need to do all that we can to prevent a potential academic disaster,” the minister said.
She said the Department of Basic Education believed schools must remain open. “In saying so we are not insensitive to the concerns raised about the rising infections.
“The position is that we continue to handle Covid cases according to the differentiated strategy, on a province to province, school-by-school basis,” she said
Equal Education (EE) and Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) welcomed the approach adopted to managing Covid-19 infections in schools.
“We believe this is in line with its risk-adjusted strategy and significantly helps to manage fears around school safety, while protecting learners from the harmful impacts of not being at school every day,” they said yesterday.
They added that protecting the time that learners spent in school was vital as for many learners, their schools provided a safe environment.
The minister announced that with the support from the Department of Health, the sector vaccination programme would begin on Wednesday and run until July 8, a day before the end of the school second term.
Those to be vaccinated include all teachers and administrative and support staff at all public schools, irrespective of their age; school governing body appointed teachers and teachers employed by independent schools.
There are 582 000 people to be vaccinateds, according to the department.
Motshekga said there were some people who may not qualify to be vaccinated such as those who have been infected with Covid-19 in the past 30 days, people who have already been vaccinated or who had received a flu vaccine in the past 14 days.
“… it was further agreed that the vaccination programme must cover staff who transport children to and from schools; staff who support the school feeding scheme; staff who do remote learning programmes and staff of teacher unions and indeed other contracted staff who provide security, do cleaning and other functions at school,” she said.
The minister emphasised that vaccination was voluntary but highly recommended
Primary school learners are expected to return to school full time on the first day of the third term on July 26.