Namibia: School Defends COVID-19 Indemnity Form

The St George's Diocesan School has defended its decision to request parents to sign Covid-19-related indemnity forms once pupils return to school. Many parents frowned upon the decision this week.

However, the school argued it ordinarily requires parents to sign indemnity forms when pupils go on school trips and sports tours. Concerned parents wanted to know why should they sign indemnity forms if the school does not want to take responsibility when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The indemnity forms state parents are at liberty to keep their children at home if they do not feel comfortable for them to be at school. St George's executive head Berdine Beukes was, however, quick to apologise to parents for having circulated the Covid-19 indemnity form without any explanation.

"It is not an attempt by the school to abdicate responsibility for the health and safety of the children in its care, but merely an acknowledgment required that parents understand that all steps to mitigate the risk have been taken and if contamination or injury occurs, it was not as a result of oversight or negligence on the part of the school," Beukes remarked. The school management says it understands the grave concerns parents have with regards to the risks associated with Covid-19 and therefore advised them to fully acquaint themselves with the school's health and safety measures-perhaps visit and observe and decide if such measures provide the necessary comfort.

The school also said it will not be in a position to offer online learning to pupils who opt not to return to the classroom. Beukes responded it would be extremely difficult to offer face-to-face classes and e-learning concurrently.

"The school simply does not have the human resources to oblige to such an arrangement, and therefore ask the support of parents to find ways to facilitate face to face teaching," Beukes noted. While calling on parents to consider their request, Beukes reminded them that St George's is a member of the Independent Schools' Association of Southern Africa (ISASA). Beukes explained the recommendation for parents to sign indemnity forms emanate from ISASA's best practice guidelines and carries the approval of their council. The school thanked parents and guardians, in particular, for the role they have played over the last two months while kids were home.


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