The department of Basic Education announced on Wednesday that it had taken a decision to suspend all contact sports with immediate effect countrywide. This announcement follows a meeting of the council of education ministers which was held virtually on Wednesday morning. The statement said that even though the department had come up with various measures and protocols to mitigate the spread of Covid-19, it was obvious that these were not working as cases of spread of the virus were on the increase. The announcement also added that all other non-contact sports can go ahead if the school put in place all necessary protocols like social distancing as well as other hygiene and sanitation measures. “Non-contact sports training in schools can continue provided that all social distancing, hygiene, and safety measures are observed and that there is no physical contact between participants during training,” the DBE said.
The decision follows several cases of schools that had recorded cases of Covid within their ranks. According to the department, these cases were closely linked to sports participation in contact sports. This was reiterated by a statement that was made by the department. “Following sports activities related to Covid-19 outbreaks in Gauteng and the general rise of cases in communities across the country, the Outbreak Response Team said that the risk was high when engaged in close contact sports, especially with people who did not live together,” said the Department of Education statement. This was in an apparent reference to much-reported cases of 11 students at Krugersdorp High School and 6 at St John’s High School who tested positive for the virus. Despite the schools disputing this, there were strong indications that many of the cases may have been through the avenue of sporting fixtures.
Further to the cases that seem to be in Gauteng, there was also concern regarding cases that have also gone up significantly in the Northern Cape. According to the Department of Education in the province, there is concern about the impact of Covid on the schools in the area. “Since 1 May, we can report that 28 schools in the province have been directly affected due to the Covid-19 cases,” said the department’s statement on Wednesday. The statement went on to say that these schools had been closed for disinfecting with those who had contracted the virus having been asked to isolate themselves.