The Free State is the only province to have shown an upward trend in the most recent COVID-19 statistics as released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Sunday.

Makgoe said it was critical that learners take their lives seriously as the third wave holds its grip over the country.

COVID-19 safety protocols ignored

“We have noted serious activities in a number of areas in the province where learners are not observing social distancing when they out of their school yards and this helps in spreading the virus at schools,” he said.

The MEC said some prominent schools had been temporarily shut following outbreaks within the Maungaung metro.

“We have decided to suspend classes at Dr Blok SS as from today (23 August) until next Monday, August 30, due to an outbreak in which  48 learners have tested positive,” said Makgoe.

Another school, Tsoseletso Secondary in Rocklands, Bloemfontein, has also reported that at least 21 learners have tested positive. The parents and teachers have since urged the department of health to do something.

“Something drastic needs to be done. Trial exams are around the corner,” said David Hlao, who is a parent and a teacher.

Several schools closed for now

The Winburg Combined School, north east of Bloemfontein, has also fallen victim to the virus and is also closed for the time being.

“Six Grade 12 learners have tested positive for COVID-19,” said Makgoe.  “The school had followed all health protocols and close contacts have been identified. The health department is involved and we are monitoring the situation closely,” he added.

The Free State currently has four schools that are temporarily closed with a school in Xhariep the latest adding to the numbers. Close to 20 learners have tested positive.

Two weeks ago, Grey College was also shut after 53 of learners and 7 teachers tested positive for COVID-19.  MEC Makgoe welcomed the return of some of the learners today.

“We welcome grade 10-12 learners, teachers and non-teaching staff of Grey College Secondary School. This, after 53 learners and 7 teachers including the principal and his deputy tested positive. Grade 8 and 9 learners will return on 30 August,” he said. – Health-e News