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MANZINI – Hardly three days after the reopening of schools, the country has recorded its first COVID-19 case in a public school.

A well-placed source within the education sector said the first case of COVID-19 was recorded at Makhosini High School in Nhlangano under the Shiselweni Region. The affected teacher is a female. 

According to the source, it was not clear when the affected teacher tested for COVID-19, but she reported for work on Monday June 29, 2020 when the Ministry of Education and Training recalled all high school teachers to work. The source said the teacher also came to work the following day and she was part of the educators who were preparing the school for reopening, which took place on Monday July 6, 2020.

Thereafter, he said the teacher did not report for work and nothing was communicated by the school administration to the rest of the staff members.
“The other teachers were only told about the matter on Tuesday,” the source said. Thereafter, the source said yesterday health officials descended to the school and screened some of the teachers.

“Only 10 were tested and they were later put in isolation for five days, while waiting for their test results,” the source said. She said the educators, especially those who were not tested, were concerned about why they were left out. In fact, the source said later on, they were ordered to go back to class.
During the visit by the health officials, the source said several classes, which they supposed the infected teacher went into, were fumigated. She alleged that some of the educators who were concerned, tried to request the officers to fumigate all the classrooms, but their plea seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.


She alleged that this was because they were allegedly told that they could not fumigate the classrooms since there were pupils inside.  Again, the source alleged that the 10 teachers, who were placed  in isolation, were allegedly told that if their results come back negative, they would be expected to report for work. She alleged that they were also told that they would be tested for the second time after 14 days.

“The question is what will happen if they (10 teachers) start to develop COVID-19 symptoms on day 10, because they will be back at work and in contact with other educators and pupils?” the source wondered.

Meanwhile, the Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Education and Training, Bertram Stewart, asked if the teacher tested positive for COVID-19 at home, would this publication had called him. “So, you assume that the teacher contracted the virus at the school?” the PS asked. Thereafter, the PS said if that was not the assumption, why was he being called because this was a health issue and not an education matter.

“If you are telling me that there is a child who failed or was taken out of school, that would be an education issue,” the PS said, before referring this publication to call his counterpart from the Ministry of Health. He said this was because this issue was supposed to be handled by the Ministry of Health. “I am not a doctor,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General, Sikelela Dlamini, said the matter was officially reported to the teachers’ union. However, he could not comment further on the matter because he was reportedly in a meeting.

Meanwhile, the Director of Health Services Dr Vusi Magagula said so far, he heard that a team from the ministry went to the school to fumigate among other things. However, the director said he was yet to find out what happened.

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