Fourth Wave Could Put 2022 School Year In Jeopardy

Children in a classroom

As South Africa braces for the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, could schools open later than originally planned for?

Schools in South Africa are set to open in the latter weeks of January 2022. After two years of disruptions to the school year, stakeholders will be hoping that learners spend the majority of the 2022 school year inside the classroom.

However the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections could throw a spanner in the works. This after it was revealed by the National Institute For Communicable Diseases that more children are testing positive during the current wave of infections.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) Secretary-General, Mugwena Maluleke says that schools should close sooner to limit the spread of the virus now. He says teachers should be allowed to work from home as many students would have completed their examinations by now.

Maluleke is calling upon improvised tracking and tracing measures, along with vaccinations to ensure that the fourth wave of infections are not prolonged. He argues failure to do this could lead to a prolonged fourth wave which could impact when schools will reopen.

National Alliance of Independent School Associations' Anne Baker says everything must be done to lessen the impact of the fourth wave. She argues that the hybrid approach to learners is not always beneficial to a learner's well being while adding that only wealthier schools have the capabilities of moving learning online.

She said, “research is showing that online learning isn't the greatest thing for children socially. We now have a generation who are isolated [and] do not have the relationships they should. So we have to do everything we can to have face-to-face teaching because both what they call hybrid learning, where some stay at home and teachers teach, and online is very stressful for the learners and for the teachers”.

The Department of Health is encouraging all citizens to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in the hope of lessening the impact of the pandemic. Approximately 591 022 adolescents have received a jab of the Covid-19 vaccine in the country. However children below the age of 12 are not yet eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and make up a large percentage of the school community.



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