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37 learners test positive as COVID-19 rocks Free State schools

Staff Reporter

At least 37 learners, eight teachers, a principal and a senior education official in the Free State have tested positive for COVID-19 as the province’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases edges towards 1 000.

The hardest hit is Vaal Christian School, an independent school in Viljoensdrif in the Metsimaholo Local Municipality, where 27 learners, five teachers and a hostel staffer tested positive this week.

At Christian Deweet School in Dewetsdorp, eight learners have tested positive for COVID-19.

Both schools had to immediately suspend classes to allow for decontamination to take place.

In Welkom, two teachers from Hani Park Primary School tested positive for the coronavirus.

Six of their close contacts have been identified, with two them testing negative while the others are awaiting their results.

The school has been disinfected.

At Koppie Alleen Primary School, also in Welkom, a learner tested positive and the school followed all the health protocols and the situation has since been resolved.

In Hoopstad, a teacher tested positive for COVID-19 at Relekile Secondary School.

Six close contacts have been identified – three are said to be at low risk and the other three will be tested.

A principal and a clerk at two different schools in Harrismith have also tested positive.

The principal is from Sentibale Primary School while the clerk is from Nhlakanipo Primary School.

Last Friday, a Grade 7 learner from Universitas Primary School in Bloemfontein also tested positive last week Friday.

Meanwhile, a senior official at the provincial head office of the Free State Department of Education has tested positive for COVID-19.

Provincial education spokesperson Howard Ndaba told The Free Stater that the official was not feeling well and decided to seek medical attention.

“A Department of Education official has tested positive after he exhibited flu-like symptoms,” he said, without divulging the official’s identity or other details.

Ndaba said all protocols in line with addressing COVID-19 cases are being followed to ensure the infection does not spread to other staff.

“Fidel Castro Building is now closed until Monday for disinfection and decontamination. Health officials are interviewing the official and tracing his contacts,” he added.

The high-rise building also houses some sections of the provincial treasury department.

This is the first time the education department has reported a case of COVID-19 at its provincial head office.

Last Friday, an official at the Motheo district education offices also tested positive.

The Free State’s official tally for confirmed COVID-19 cases now stands 976 including 11 deaths recorded, while about 318 people have recovered from the disease.

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