South African government reopens schools

After a delay of weeks due to the second wave of the coronavirus, schools in South Africa began reopening on Monday for the beginning of the 2021 academic year.

Before entering school buildings, masked parents and students had to sanitize their hands and get their temperature tested.

A woman, Kelebogile Mgwenya, while accompanying her child to school said “I’m happy for him, even though I have concerns because we are in this pandemic. I have questions, like is he going to be safe… But I just have to trust the system that they will take care of our children.”

Since December, schools had been closed in South Africa and were supposed to reopen late last month, but due to an uptick virus outbreak, the opening was postponed by two weeks.

Mdududzi Gwala, principal of the school in Alexandria, near Johannesburg, said the reopening of schools was good for children who were unable to learn from home.

Gwala said, “most of our parents here don’t have cellphones, the technology, that you can use [for online teaching]. They’re poor. So they don’t get help at home. So it’s upon us to make sure that we take over the things that are supposed to be done by parents, by educator assistants”.

However, the basic education ministry of South Africa said 1,169 teachers were missing because of the pandemic.

South Africa, with nearly 1.5 million infections and nearly 48,000 deaths, has the highest reported cases of COVID-19 in Africa.

The authorities, however, state that the number of new infections has fallen in recent weeks, with just 1,744 cases registered on Sunday. On Monday, after a month of closure, the nation also reopened its land borders.

South Africa is set to start vaccinations with a Johnson & Johnson vaccine, beginning with frontline health workers and other vulnerable groups, days after the AstraZeneca jab was scrapped, which was found to falter against the coronavirus type dominant in the country

Educator, writer and legal researcher at Alafarika for Studies and Consultancy.

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