As many as 527 learners and 165 teachers have tested positive for Covid-19 countrywide and are currently in isolation, education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp confirmed yesterday.
The situation has forced some Windhoek schools to temporarily close until Friday, while some pupils are expected to return next week Monday.
Despite the rising number of new infections, Steenkamp said closing schools for longer periods will be the last resort, saying positive cases are being dealt with by the education authorities in collaboration with the health ministry's surveillance teams.
"We are not considering any lockdown for schools," said Steenkamp.
"For the past 10 days since we opened schools, we have 165 teachers who tested positive, which means they are in isolation and not in schools. We also have 527 learners who tested positive. They are isolated either in their own homes or isolated at the schools' hostel facilities and they put additional strain on our teaching," she said. A number of government schools yesterday asked staff and learners not to return to school today due to confirmed cases.
Hochland High School suspended teaching until Thursday after recording six confirmed cases. Two staff members at Suiderhof Primary School also tested positive, leading to the cancellation of classes until this Thursday.
Jan Möhr Secondary School also announced a confirmed case, with classes to resume on Friday. "Several cases" have also been announced at Emma Hoogenhout Primary School, with classes set to resume on Friday, while Windhoek High School suspended all sport and learning activities until Monday next week.
St George's Diocesan School also announced two staff members tested positive, but recovering with symptoms. Classes at the private school will only resume on 21 June, according to the school's executive head Berdine Beukes. In a letter addressed to parents, Beukes said the decision will effectively give the school 10 days of isolation, during which period they will disinfect the school premises. She further explained the school has noticed an exponential increase in student absentee rates in recent weeks. "Many of our families have either been affected or continue to experience uncertainties, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a school, we constantly assess the situation. We do, however, have families in the same households who tested positive," she said. Meanwhile, Steenkamp has appealed to teachers and community members to consider getting vaccinated against Covid-19. "We know the vaccination is voluntary. But we call for two issues. First and foremost, for community members, teachers and parents to be conscious of the fact that we cannot take for granted that we need to regularly wash our hands or sanitise. We must correctly wear our masks and at the same time, we must keep the social distance. I am appealing to everybody and all staff members at schools to please look at scientific evidence at hand and consider being vaccinated," she appealed.