The Western Cape has 5 084 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 102 615 confirmed cases and 93 788  recoveries as of 1pm on August 24. The Western Cape has recorded an additional 17 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the province to 3743.

“We send our condolences to their family and friends at this time,” said Premier Alan Winde in a statement.

The case breakdown for the province is as follows:

Return to school:

Many learners will return to schools across the Western Cape this week, joining grades 7 and 12 who had returned to learning earlier this month. “We wish all the children well as they return to school and prepare for the remainder of the school year. We also thank all of the teachers, principals, school staff, and volunteers who have been on hand to ensure that the return to school is as safe as possible,” said Winde.

Western Cape Education Minister, Debbie Schäfer said: “There are just over 800 000 learners in the grades forming part of this week’s phased return to class. However, not all of these learners came back to class today. Each school has a unique Temporary Revised Education Plan to manage the 1.5m physical distance requirement, so grades are attending on alternate days, weeks, or using another model. A third of our schools had also previously notified the Head of Department that they would bring some grades back to class earlier than this week, so it isn’t the first day back for those learners.”

Schäfer continued, “Nonetheless, it is still a large number of learners, so we are very pleased with how things have proceeded today.

“This school year has been difficult for many learners and parents and we understand that there may still be fears associated with children returning to school. However, we also understand that many other parents are eager to see their children back in the classroom which provides a safe space for them in the day when parents are at work. We also know that the extended closure of our schools has had a significant impact on many learners, with the poorest, who may not have access to digital learning resources at home, impacted the hardest.”

She continued, “The return to school must be done safely and we encourage parents to have age-appropriate conversations with their children around the return to the classroom, hand washing, and mask-wearing. Children by nature will mimic common behaviours they see, so wearing your own mask, regularly washing your own hands and practicing social distancing when you are outside of the home, will encourage them to do the same.”

Reopening of the economy:

Premier Winde said: “We have seen more people returning to work this week- with many of our gyms reopening for the first time today. The reopening means that many people will be able to return to work in the fitness industry and I call on businesses, gyms, trainers, and clients to all take the utmost care to ensure that they reopen safely.”

He concluded: “We have to do all that we can to ensure that we support businesses at this time so that we can save jobs and reduce unemployment, hunger, and starvation.”

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