Covid-19 positive cases without symptoms not required to isolate

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

Teachers and learners who test positive for Covid-19 and do not have symptoms are no longer required to isolate.

This according to a document published by the Department of Basic Education on Sunday on the Covid-19 measures for the resumption of full-time school attendance, Pretoria Rekord reports.The document was signed by the Department director-general Hubert Mweli.

“Individuals who have tested positive for Covid-19 and their contacts are no longer required to isolate,” the circular read.

“Only people who have symptoms or are advised by a healthcare worker should isolate for not more than seven days after which the learner, teacher, school support staff or official should return to school/office.” This week, schools were set to return to full-time learning and ditch the rotational system which was adopted in March 2020.

The circular stipulated the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the rotational schooling, presented a significant negative impact to learners’ education, protection, well-being and nutrition.

“Taking into account the resumption of full-time schooling, the regulatory provision for 1m social distancing in schools has been removed with immediate effect,” the document read.

In absence of social distancing requirements, it said said non-pharmaceutical measures should be maintained and adhered to at schools.

“Wearing of non-surgical face masks by all learners, teachers, non-teaching staff and visitors. Face mask breaks for learners (five – 15 minutes for every two hours during the school day) where they can safely remove their masks in an outdoor area.”

The department emphasised that maintenance of good ventilation should be prioritised in classrooms.

“School buildings and equipment must be cleaned thoroughly and regularly by following the environmental health cleaning and disinfection protocols.”

The circular also stipulated that no fogging and spraying of buildings as part of environment cleaning should be done.

All contact (a sport in which the participants necessarily come into bodily contact such as rugby, soccer) sport and non-contact sport, including training, intra-school and interschool games would resume.

“All arts and culture intra-school and inter-school activities are also back,” the circular read.

Last week, the cabinet announced the approval of the resumption of full-time learning in all schools.

This included primary, secondary and special schools returning to daily attendance.

Cabinet also approved changes to the adjusted alert level 1 Covid-19 regulations.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manual welcomed the announcement.

“Unlike 2020 and 2021, we have a positive start to the 2022 school year. Naptosa has for a considerable time been agitating for the return to school of all learners on a daily basis, and the discontinuation of rotational school attendance in order to arrest the further loss of teaching time.

“To accommodate the overcrowding pressures experienced by many schools, the cabinet’s decision is accompanied by a total relaxation of the 1m social distancing requirement in schools,” Manual said.

“While this is an inevitable consequence of a full return to schooling, it does not mean that there should be a let up on maintaining the other essential elements of the non-pharmaceutical Covid prevention measures.

“The compulsory wearing of masks and the sanitation regimes need to still be strictly adhered to by staff and learners in schools.”

Pretoria Rekord/Sinesipho Schrieber