Experts in the education sector are calling on the Education Department to take decisive action as Covid-19 infections continue to rise amid the fourth wave.
With the country currently enduring the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, recent figures also show the Omicron variant is more contagious among younger people.
Gauteng appears to be the most affected province, and as a result of this, the prevailing concern among experts in the education sector has been whether schools in the province should close down earlier than the stipulated time.
Sadtu’s Secretary-General, Mugwena Maluleke holds the view that the closure of schools would be ideal since it would result in less mobility among youth who are more likely to be infected.
Maluleke also says that the Education Department, particularly Gauteng’s provincial department, needs to consider closing schools early as it would be in the best interest of pupils’ safety and that of their parents.
National Alliance of Independent School Associations representative, Anne Baker says that the majority of independent schools in Gauteng have closed as a precautionary to minimise the risk of infection.
In addition to this, the NICD also found that among the young people who tested positive for the Coronavirus, one of both of their parents had not been vaccinated.
Sadtu’s Secretary-General also points out that the country may have to consider implementing strict policies among those who are not vaccinated.
He also states that although the union is yet to take a definite stance on mandatory vaccination policies, they are willing to support a decision taken by the Coronavirus task team.
However, Baker says that a more persuasive and holistic approach should be taken in convincing learners and parents to take their vaccination.
She explains that this could be done by convincing people to consider the common good and how their decision to get vaccinated could benefit others.
“We have to stop talking about individual rights and start talking about the common good because after all education is for the common good” she explains.
Schools are due to close on 15 December 2021 and both Maluleke and Baker agree that earlier school closures would lower the risk of infections among learners and parents.