Minister Schäfer urges adherence to golden rules at all times during third wave
With the Western Cape now in the third wave, we are seeing more evidence of community-level transmission which in turn affects our schools. There are currently 148 active cases amongst school staff members and 314 active case amongst learners in the Western Cape.
While these cases are being reported by schools, the provincial Department of Health has indicated that they are linked to social events rather than attendance at school – this is the same pattern we saw last year with the second wave. Our safety measures have proved effective in preventing the virus from spreading at schools, and we must continue to follow these. Nonetheless, each case reported by a school disrupts learning no matter where it was acquired. Areas may need to be cordoned off and sanitised, and the affected individuals have to isolate. This costs valuable teaching and learning time – which we cannot afford to lose any more of. It also adds to anxiety levels.
I appeal to our learners to behave responsibly at all times. It is all very well to follow the golden rules at school, but if they do not follow them when not at school, they put themselves, their families, and their friends at risk.
I make a further appeal to parents: please, consider the implications of allowing your child to attend unnecessary gatherings. I understand that our learners – and their parents – have been through a stressful time during this pandemic, and want to relax and socialise with friends. But we cannot afford to let our guard down after school hours, because the short-term benefit of having fun is outweighed by the risk of infection. The higher the rate of infection, the higher the chance of tighter restrictions, so it is up to each one of us to act responsibly.
Parents must emphasise these golden rules to their children:
- Always wear a mask.
- Maintain physical distancing – it is not ok to be close to someone if one has a mask on – BOTH are important.
- Avoid large gatherings, especially where there is poor ventilation.
- Wash hands regularly.
Our HoD also wrote to schools yesterday to ask that they emphasise these rules to their staff members, learners, and wider school communities.
We must do everything we can to flatten the curve of the third wave, and we all have the power to do so by avoiding crowded places and social events. We can stay safe if we work together and take responsibility for our own behaviour. We have made it this far – now is not the time to become complacent.