THE sudden spike in the communal transmission of COVID-19 cases reported in Namibia over the past week has given rise to fears that learners that are about to return to school will be put in the way of unnecessary risk.
In a statement Loide Shaanika, the Secretary General of the Namibia National Teachers’ Union (NANTU), demands that face-to-face teaching of all grades should be suspended for the next two weeks with immediate effect.
This follows after a 20-year-old learner of the Mariental Secondary School was registered as case number 37 by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and another scare at a hostel of a school in Swakopmund about a week ago.
“Despite our appreciation for temporary measures put in place specifically for the Mariental Secondary School, the union strongly feels that the situation is no longer safe and pose a danger to the school community,” Shaanika said.
She said the matter with the learner that travelled from Walvis Bay to Mariental to go to school is very serious and disturbing; given his travelling history and that he might have had contacts with many different members of his community, his friends and also learners from other schools.
“This makes it very difficult to continue with face-to-face schooling at the moment. Equally, this might not be the only case of a learner or a student that might have travelled from the high-risk Erongo Region which is currently under lockdown as a measure to contain the spread of the virus,” she said.
Shaanika called on the education ministry to suspend normal schooling for all grades for a period of at least 14 days while the situation is being monitored and until a comprehensive assessment has been done to show the way forward.
At the same time, Shaanika requested an urgent meeting with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture as well as the Ministry of Health and Social Services where the union’s demand can be discussed in a holistic manner.