The Star Late Edition
Schools shut down amid spike concerns
Classes suspended at Krugersdorp High and St John’s College following infections
THE Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) has suspended academic activities at two Gauteng schools following the discovery of several cases of coronavirus at each school.
The department confirmed yesterday that a decision has been made, in consultation with the Gauteng Department of Health (DoH), district directors and GDE management, to suspend academic activities at Krugersdorp High School in Krugersdorp and St John’s College in Houghton as a means of managing the discovery of several Covid-19 cases in each school.
The suspension of activities came amid a time where the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is mulling over the decision to return primary school learners full time.
The Gauteng Provincial Command Council has also raised concerns around the recent spike in the province’s Covid-19 infections.
GDE spokesperson Steve Mabona said that the Krugersdorp High on the West Rand identified 11 positive cases of coronavirus, while St John’s College identified six positive cases.
“These cases were immediately requested to go into self-isolation. The temporary closure of these schools will be from Wednesday (yesterday) to Monday,” Mabona said.
He added that the Department of Health and the GDE School Health Teams are conducting contact tracing and tracking at schools across Gauteng.
“This ensures that we are kept abreast of the occurrence of Covid-19 cases and that we swiftly attend to those which we identify,” he said.
St John’s College head of marketing and communications Jacqui Deeks told The Star yesterday that six senior learners, one preparatory learner and one staff member tested positive for coronavirus in the past week.
“St John’s College conducted all the contact tracing and supervised the additional close contacts who were subsequently tested. All these further tests returned a negative result,” Deeks said.
It was further alleged that the senior learners, who tested positive, had recently participated in a school rugby tournament. “These infections are not related to any rugby tournament.
“Our boys were scheduled to play their first derby of the season last Saturday against St Alban’s College in Pretoria,” Deeks said.
She added that the private school was not closed and learners in Grade 11, 12 and Sixth Form (A Levels) moved online as a precautionary measure while contact tracing took place, and physical classes would resume on Monday.
“We have had excellent and constructive discussions with both the DoH and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) over the past few days. Our Covid19 management team was applauded by the DoH and DBE for the excellent protocols we have in place and our handling of Covid19 cases at the school. We continue to support those affected and wish them a speedy recovery,” said Stuart West, executive headmaster of St John’s College.
Meanwhile, Krugersdorp High School referred The Star’s media inquiry to the GDE. However, the school’s principal Ivan Bailey was interviewed on Newzroom Afrika yesterday morning.
The principal said a parent was sick prior to the reopening of schools for the second term last week.
“The parent I believe was ill and she dropped the kids off at school, but the parent only tested on the Monday and the daughter also tested positive the following day,” Bailey said.
He added that by May 6, the school had four confirmed cases and the school immediately contacted the DoH.
“With four cases, a lot of the parents took their kids home and when the DoH came in on Friday, they tested the remainder of the girls (35 girls),” Bailey told Newzroom.
The remaining learners were then individually quarantined separately in the hostel over the weekend, where they had to follow a staggered eating and restroom schedule to avoid contact with each other.
The school received all the test results by yesterday morning, bringing the total number of confirmed cases at the school to 18.