School reopening eased by Health and Social Development

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The Free State Department of Health and the Department of Social Development have been working hand in hand with Education to ensure a smooth reopening of schools this week.

During a briefing in Bloemfontein yesterday Health MEC, Montseng Tsiu, announced that outbound health workers would be available to schools to ensure the safety of learners and teachers after lockdown.

“Health workers are available to schools at all times. Teaching staff at all schools have been trained to effectively deal with cases of Covid-19 and how to avoid further spread should a case be discovered. They have also been trained to effectively use PPE equipment,” she said.

“Currently there is neither a treatment for Covid-19 nor a determined timeline for it. So we have to adjust to the new normal while avoiding a further spreading of the virus,” she added.

More than 2000 workers have been stationed in schools throughout the province as screeners. “The Department of Health also trained non-teaching staff including cleaners and kitchen staff to effectively avoid spreading the virus,” explained MEC of Education Tate Makgoe.

Free State Social Development MEC, Mamiki Qabathe, also announced that 92 social workers have been deployed in different districts to work along with psychologists in supporting schools after lockdown. Twelve new social workers have been deployed to Mangaung. This is while 16 and 12 were placed in Lejweleputswa and Thabo Mofutsanyane districts respectively.

“As a department, we want parents to have confidence in sending their children back to school. During the lockdown we had to ensure that vulnerable children who depended on feeding schemes at school have access to meals during lockdown. We have had to find more innovative ways to meet the unforeseen issues caused by Covid-19,” she said.

According to MEC Makgoe, Free State Education has had to also work closely with the Department of Police after 72 schools were vandalised in the province during lockdown. “Many Free State schools are construction sites but they also face issues of theft. We are working closely with police to guard against further destruction,” he explained.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele

nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za