By Nqobile Tshili
Government has said Covid-19 certificates that were being demanded by schools are not necessary as learners will be screened for the pandemic upon returning to school.
Some schools were demanding that pupils bring forward Covid-19 certificates as part of entry requirements when schools open.
Schools were due to open on Monday for the First Term but Government has since deferred the opening to a date yet to be announced.
The Government said due to a spike in Covid-19 infections and a threat posed by tropical depression Chalane, it decided to defer the opening of schools.
The schools’ opening preparation had become a headache for parents and guardians as some boarding schools were demanding Covid-19 certificates.
Covid-19 certificates cost about US$30 at public hospitals and up to US$60 at private hospitals and private laboratories which many parents and guardians say they cannot afford.
Primary and Secondary Education Ministry spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro yesterday said Covid-19 certificates are not part of the ministry’s Standard Operation Procedures and were therefore unnecessary.
“The ministry has SOP which we are implementing to ensure our school environment is safe from Covid-19. Part of the SOP is screening which is very thorough and after thorough screening we place an individual who might not be feeling well in a holding bay. The pupil or teacher who is identified to be feeling unwell is the one who is supposed to be tested,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said getting tested before resuming classes therefore remains voluntary hence schools should not demand Covid-19 certificates.
“What those schools need to do is to screen and if they screen and have a genuine reason for a teacher or learner to be tested then they will be tested, according to our SOP. Even if you bring a Covid-19 certificate and you exhibit signs of being unwell, you will be put in a holding bay and be tested. Bringing a Covid-19 certificate does not exonerate one from being screened,” said Mr Ndoro.
Thekwane High School is one of the schools that was demanding Covid-19 certificates but has since advised parents and guardians that the certificates are no longer required.
In a letter dated December 29, the school notified parents and guardians that the previously demanded Covid-19 certificates were no longer a requirement.
“After consultation with the stakeholders on the issue of the Covid-19 certificate requirement, which is necessary for the safety of our learners after the festive season, the Responsible Authority agreed that we waive this requirement on condition that the school administration together with parents/guardians, will take collective responsibility in the event of the outbreak of the disease in the institution,” read the letter.
Meanwhile, Mr Ndoro said boarding schools are justified to demand a fraction of the fees for candidates completing final year examinations this month.
“For those in boarding schools they have to have an arrangement with the school because remember they have to pay for lodging, food, catering and those things are not for free.
“However, for day scholars they don’t have to pay. They are just coming to school to write their examinations and leave, they are just using the school as a centre,” said Mr Ndoro. The Chronicle