Namibia: Covid Closes Over 20 Schools

MORE than 20 schools have closed due to novel coronavirus infections among pupils in recent weeks, education executive director Sanet Steenkamp said.

This includes Windhoek Gymnasium, Jan Möhr, Hochland High, Khomas High and Suiderhof, Dagbreek and Emma Hoogenhout primary schools.

Steenkamp said four schools in Omaheke, four in Oshikoto and two at Rehoboth have also closed temporarily.

Schools have been opening and closing since February due to the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases being reported, which is the procedure when schools report cases, she explained.

The executive director reported that a 14-year-old pupil in Grade 8 died in his sleep at home last week Monday and the post-mortem results were positive. The boy was a pupil at Hage Geingob High School in Katutura.

"He had an underlying health condition that the school was aware of. The ministry of health tested more pupils from his class and the school is closed until next Monday," Steenkamp said.

Out of all Covid-19 cases, children between five and 19 years old represent 17% while adults between 20 and 49 years old represent 62%.

"We are sitting here with community transmissions. We are looking at the matter with the Namibia National Teachers' Union and Namibia National Students' Organisation to work on communication strategies and more education," she added.

Meanwhile, some parents at one of the schools in Windhoek have complained about the school's reckless behaviour over Covid-19.

Parents said the school has 30 pupils in one class and they are not divided into groups like what other schools are doing with every grade.

"We are worried about our children, they are in crowded classrooms where there is no social distance among the pupils," one of the parents said.

RESILIENCE PLAN

Earlier this year, Steenkemp explained that the ministry developed a bounceback plan to cushion the gap between 2020 and this year.

"Our resilience plan basically looks at what will happen in the classroom and at school level. The resilience plan is providing guidelines to the schools to help them when we are having severe challenges that arise or persist like Covid-19," Steenkamp explained.

Part of this plan, the five to eight weeks, will be spent on recovery and revision to "build inclusion and resilience in literacy skills for sustainable educational progression".

The plan also focuses on an individualised learning plan based on pupil diversity and inclusiveness of marginalised pupils, those with disabilities and special needs.

With the high number of infections in the schools, the ministry set up new infection prevention and control measures.

One of the measures, Steenkamp said, is for teachers and pupils who show any possible symptoms of Covid-19 to stay home, especially those with co-morbidities until they "are fine and they may return back to school".

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