The coronavirus hit another Boland school after four of its pupils were tested positive last week.
An administrative staff member of Cloetesville High School has also been home in self-isolation since June 1 after being tested positive.
Principal Dorian Meyer confirmed the cases, saying the school had been closed for a day to be disinfected. Those who were in contact with the positive cases were also detected.
The pupils and staff member are doing well, he says.
According to Meyer, the situation is difficult to handle as the head of the Western Cape Education Department’s measures differ from those of the national department.
According to the national guidelines, the site must be closed for two weeks to be disinfected, but he said the provincial department said it was unnecessary. He said the provincial department’s guidelines were drafted in such a way that it did not have the option of closing the school for two weeks.
Provincial Education Department spokeswoman Kerry Mauchline said in response that a positive case does not mean the school should close. Several factors determine the closure such as looking at the type of contact that those who have tested positive have had with others. Were they in direct contact with each other, or was it “comfortable” contact – in other words, they were only in the same room, but not physically in direct contact. If someone was in direct contact, they should go into self-isolation for 14 days.
Mauchline said if people were not in direct physical contact, the school does not have to close, and self-isolation is also unnecessary. The parts where the pupils or staff involved were just disinfected and the school may reopen a day after.
According to Meyer, the situation is exacerbated by the fear and stigma attached to people who test positive.
“The parents are upset and panic-stricken, but we follow all guidelines to ensure there is no risk of their children catching fire.”
As of June 30, 84 of the 154 matrics were present at the school. There were 35 pupils on Wednesday and 29 on Thursday.
Meyer said it was very difficult to confirm where the pupils lit, but he suspected that one pupil had lit a positive test on a parent. The others are apparently friends who have been together. Not everyone was tested positive at the same time.
The administrative staff member contracted the virus when the school was still closed. Since she was tested positive, she has not been back to school.