South Africa: Back to School - Is Now the Right Time?

(file photo).

The question of whether or not learners ought to return to school despite the continuing rise in Covid-19 infections in South Africa, or, if they do return, when this should happen and under what conditions has become a vexed and emotive issue. This is because the science on the extent to which children transmit the virus - like so much else about this global pandemic - is inconclusive.

Some studies suggest that there is strong evidence indicating that children do transmit the virus. Where children test positive for the virus, the general pattern is that such children, unless they suffer from an underlying condition, experience a mild form of the disease. Despite this, these studies suggest that we must adopt measures to prevent children becoming infected if we are to mitigate the pandemic since they may transmit the virus to others. See:

Other studies suggest that children are less likely to transmit the virus to adults. Many of these studies occurred after school closures and when social distancing measures were already in place and may therefore not provide the full picture, particularly regarding the risks associated with opening schools.

Nevertheless, based on the available evidence various countries...

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