Schafer: No evidence of mass COVID-19 infections at WC schools

Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer said that more than half of schools in the province had not reported positive coronavirus cases.

A group of grade 11 learners at a school in Cape Town go through orientation on their return to school. Picture: @WCEDnews/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) said that 379 pupils had tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of June when grades 7 and 12s returned to the classroom.

The department said that it amounted to 0.1% of pupils in the grades that had returned to school and added that many of them had already recovered.

There are currently 333 active COVID-19 cases amongst WCED staff.

There's been ongoing calls for schools to be shut until the COVID-19 peak has passed.

Western Cape Education MEC Debbie Schafer said that more than half of schools in the province had not reported positive coronavirus cases.

She said that of the schools that had reported COVID-19 cases, 72.4% had only reported one or two cases.

Schafer said that they're thus not seeing evidence of mass spreading of the virus at schools.

The MEC said that they were also not seeing evidence that staff and learners were at greater risk of acquiring the virus at school than elsewhere.

And yet, she said, schooling specifically had been targeted for closure while other services such as supermarkets, banks, cleaning services and government offices and many others that had reported cases and had to temporarily close for disinfection continued to operate.

Schafer questioned why education was considered a "nice to have" and could be sacrificed.

She added that the department considered education to be fundamentally important to a child's health, food security, future earnings and safety.

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