The minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga, announced on Saturday that schools in South Africa would remain open in order to facilitate the vaccination of members of staff both in public and private schools. Minister Motshekga was making the much-awaited press announcement regarding the decision on whether schools would close in response to the mounting pressure from many sectors following the spiking of Covid 19 cases in the country.
Motshekga said that they have taken advice from health experts in arriving at this decision and are therefore not insensitive to the concerns that have been raised by the various stakeholders. Motshekga said: “We believe that schools must remain open, and in saying so we are not insensitive to the concerns raised about the rising infections.” She added that while some schools had been directly affected by Covid 19 cases, the majority remained stable. She mentioned that about 100 schools had been affected from a total of over 25 517, which left just 25 400 stable and unaffected.
Moving over to the vaccination programme that had been planned for those in the education fraternity, Minister Motshekga said that 582,000 teachers and ancillary staff would be vaccinated over a two-week period starting from 23 June and ending on the 8th of July. “For the next two weeks, we make the clarion call to our school communities to drop all and vaccinate.“In order for us to successfully complete this program, we will need to keep schools open. Any disruptions would be undesirable,” Motshekga said, adding that the vaccination would happen in both the public and private schools and would include teachers, admin staff, volunteer food handlers, and cleaners.
The Basic Education Department confirmed that it had received three hundred thousand doses from Johnson and Johnson and would be receiving more from the same source in America. They added that they would be communicating with schools to set up vaccination centres. Motshekga appealed to all teachers to be vaccinated so that everyone could be protected even though she also emphasized that the vaccination would be voluntary. Vaccination is voluntary but highly recommended so that everybody can be protected. Let us work together on this fight against Covid-19 in our spaces,” appealed the minister.