GEORGE NEWS - Schools, shops and even the George Magistrate’s Court have been affected by persons testing positive for Covid-19.
The Shoprite Group confirmed that a staff member at their Checkers branch at St George’s Mall is Covid-19 positive, and Pick n Pay Precap Centre also confirmed a case this morning.
The family supermarket posted a notice online, informing shoppers that a staff member tested positive this morning, and that the store will be temporarily closed.
It was also confirmed to George Herald that someone tested positive at George Magistrate’s Court.
The virus has also affected several schools in George thus far – York High School, George High, Conville Primary, Mzoxolo Primary and Tyholorha Primary.
George High school was closed, but has reopened after it was sanitised. Tyholorha Primary was closed and reopened on Monday.
At Mzoxolo Primary, parents protested at the school this morning, wanting to take their children home. The principal, Raymond Eagan, said there is only one confirmed case of Covid-19. The test results of the two educators who were in contact with the teacher in question were negative. “We reported the matter to the Department of Education and the school was cleaned on Friday last week and we cannot close the school until the Department of Education instructs me to,” he said.
The Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) has confirmed the following: York High is closed for cleaning and will reopen on Monday; Conville Primary and George High are open; Mzoxolo Primary is open; Tyholorha Primary is open. Conville and Mzoxolo are waiting to hear from the department whether they should close the schools.
The Minister of Education, Debbie Schäfer, said a confirmed case at a school does not require the school to close. “In each case a number of factors will be considered in making the decision. If a person has only been in one or two rooms, is it possible for schooling to continue by cordoning off and sanitising those rooms. If the staff member has been all over the school it might require temporary closure.”
Schäfer says the date that the staff member/learner was last present in the school is important. “The NICD and Department of Health have told us that the virus does not survive on surfaces for more than 72 hours. If a staff member was last present at a school more than a week before, sanitising a surface is not required.”
Finally, the number of direct contacts must also be considered. Schäfer says there must be clearly distinguished between direct (close) contact, and casual contact. She explains that direct contact involves being very close to someone physically, or giving a hug or a handshake. It is important that people keep direct contact to a minimum as required by physical distancing protocols. Only the direct contacts of a confirmed case need to isolate for up to 14 days from the date of last contact.
Just being in the same room as a confirmed case, when maintaining the 1,5m physical distancing requirement, is considered casual contact. Casual contacts do not need to isolate, but they should be monitored for any symptoms of Covid-19.
If only a handful of staff members at a school need to isolate, it would not be necessary to close a school. If a large number of staff members are required to isolate, this may impact on the ability of a school to continue teaching and supervision. If this does happen, permission must be granted by the Head of Department to close the school.
Thus, the circumstances of each positive case will determine whether the school needs to close. It is not an automatic decision.
“We have asked principals to ensure that they communicate clearly to their staff and parents of learners in this regard.”
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