The Western Cape Government has requested several schools in the province to make their hostels available as isolation units for recovering COVID-19 patients, according to Western Cape Education Department head Brian Schreuder.
Schreuder said that although the Education Department has great sympathy with the government’s needs in combating the pandemic, the schools will be unable to do so as they are due to open shortly and will be needed to resume education.
He added, however, that the Department will reconsider the matter should schools be closed for a longer period (exceeding two months).
Schreuder also asked schools across the province not to take matters into their own hands, and abide by the Department’s decision.
“The decision can only be taken by me. It cannot be taken on an ad hoc manner across the province. I ask for your understanding and support in this regard. There is a protocol via disaster management structures, and through a central point. I do understand that local municipalities are also trying to make plans and I am appreciative of this process. But decisions about the use of any public school facilities in any way can only be taken by me, in an orderly fashion, within our principles and protocols,” Schreuder said.
Given that hostels and schools will be utilised immediately once lockdown ends, ANC deputy chief whip in the provincial legislature and party spokesperson on education, Khalid Sayed said the preferable option would be to use appropriate outlying municipal or state facilities, guest farms, hotels and guest houses.
“The WCED should rather focus on ensuring that schools are utilised as centres for the distribution of food during the Covid-19 lockdown,” Sayed said.