Silikamva Primary School in Imizamo Yethu quickly jumped on board to support President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for the country to help curb the spread of Covid-19.
President Ramaphosa declared the pandemic a national disaster on Sunday and has implemented several measures, including closing schools until after Easter.
Principal Nobuntu Mayekiso said before schools closed on Wednesday they handed out masks for pupils to wear at all times during school hours, taught them the basics of cleaning and sanitising their hands regularly, and sent pamphlets with useful information to their parents.
“The coronavirus needs to be treated with seriousness, but not panic. We just need to adhere to what we need to do in order to minimise its spread and prevention,” she said.
Ms Mayekiso said it was “highly important” for the school to make pupils aware of the virus, but at the same time, teach them what the virus could do if they were affected.
“If they understand what this virus does to one, then they’ll be able to protect themselves and their families. We have requested parents and staff to consult local clinics or doctors if they are not feeling well or have similar symptoms,” Ms Mayekiso added.
She said some parents had taken their children with flu-like symptoms to the doctor and clinics.
The school’s attendance was also heavily affected last week as some parents decided to keep their children at home due to the flu-like symptoms they were experiencing.
Parents had called the school to get advice on what to do.
She said they allayed the pupils’ fears.
“They are both scared and concerned. We have asked them not to panic, but to do what is right. Like washing their hands regularly, to cover their mouths when they cough, not to hug each other and tell their parents or teachers when they are not feeling well,” Ms Mayekiso said.
The virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, poses the greatest risk to people over 70, and those with chronic illness and compromised immune systems. Diagnosed patients have been asked to self isolate themselves until they are symptom free and further testing needs to be done to confirm the results are negative.
Rumours spread like wildfire that two pupils from the Hout Bay International School were tested for the virus, but Principal Gavin Budd quickly set the record straight.
“We had two pupils who had very high temperatures, but they did not attend school and were later sent for testing just to be safe,” he said.
The results came back and both pupils were tested negative for the virus.
Mr Budd explained that the school had implemented a strict hygiene policy, including placing hand sanitiser around the school and also preparing online learning systems for the pupils, in order for them to remain safely indoors.
Spokesperson for the Peace and Mediation Forum, Warren Abrahams, said several talks were held with the Hangberg community and said: “I realised that there are still myths surrounding the virus and some believe that we are an isolated community far away from everything and it won’t affect us. It will affect us in the worst way ever, because we are a tight knitted community living very close to each other and in informal settlements.”
He said in other countries, the government advised residents to stock up on essentials necessities, hand sanitiser and sanitising liquids.
“We even see people fighting over toilet paper, how will we do that when we live from payday to payday? The best we can do at this point is to practice good hygiene and wash our hands regularly. If this pandemic reaches Hout Bay, I hope we all are prepared and with the grace of the Almighty to see this storm through,” Mr Abrahams said.