KZN Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane and the provincial Chief Whip Mr Super Zuma were in Amajuba District for the first day of the School Functionality Monitoring Programme.
Accompanied by stakeholders and representatives from various Departments, the delegation visited Newcastle Senior Primary School, as well as Hutten Park Primary School, and were largely pleased with what they saw.
This inspection programme takes place annually, and occurs in all districts to evaluate schools comprehensively in terms of readiness to re-open for the new year, academic performance, infrastructure, and the impact of social issues on learning and teaching.
However, this year the focus has largely been on schools' readiness to deal with the impact of COVID -19.
At Newcastle Senior Primary School, Principal Mr Andre Spies reported an overall positive report and thanked the relevant Departments that the school had received all Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks, and sanitizers on time. According to Mr Spies, the school curriculum is running relatively smoothly, despite last year's interruptions due to the national lockdown, with only seven failures in the entire school from Grade 1-7.
At Huttenpark Primary School, it emerged that although the school managed to cover most of its curriculum through online platforms - creating WhatsApp groups and sending learners home with textbooks and work - it faced some infrastructure challenges.
Principal Mr Neil Grobler appealed to the Department of Education for a higher subsidy, as the cost of water and electricity was too high, and in order to be able to pay educators reasonable salaries.
The school was found to have good COVID-19 regulation compliance ratings, and has put the following measures in place to combat the spread of COVID-19 :
●Temperature reading and hand sanitization is done before each learner enters the school premises. Each learner also has to answer a COVID-19 symptoms questionnaire.
●If a learner has any symptoms, they are taken to an isolation room where they wait for their parents to collect them
●Learner behaviour is monitored from the school gate to the classrooms
●Learners sanitise their hands before and after a bathroom break
●Each bathroom has antibacterial soap dispensers installed.
The MEC strongly discouraged schools from completely shutting down if a COVID- 19 case emerges, and said that only close contacts should be isolated, with other normal infection control and prevention measures followed.
She thanked teachers for the work they do, especially during this pandemic.
The MEC also embarked on a loudhailing COVID-19 awareness campaign at Makhuthuza, in Newcastle, where she urged the community to first visit health facilities at the first sign of any COVID-19 symptoms.
"Only when a health professional has cleared you, has said that your symptoms are moderate, can you then be released to recover and isolate at home using various methods."