Report from Nurse Grace in Waterberg schools for the from June to August 2020

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RE: OPENING OF SCHOOLS

After two months of stringent lockdown, due to the Corvid-19 pandemic, schools in the Waterberg reopened on 6th June 2020 in a phased way, starting with grade 12 and 7, followed by grades 11 and 9. Other grades started on 10th August.

Both primary and secondary schools were required to meet operating standards to ensure safety. This involved checking Personal Protective Equipment was in place for both teachers and learners and making sure the school environment and set up of classrooms were able to accommodate a certain number of students.

Teachers made plans to rotate lessons depending on subjects. Each classroom holds 20 students and is sanitised regularly with social distancing observed. Each student received 2 washable face-masks.

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SCREENING AND SANITIZING

Temperatures are taken on daily basis and a register is signed for staff and all students. Screening for Corvid-19 symptoms and a questionnaire is completed every 2 weeks to ensure all learners are checked and those with ‘flu like symptoms are referred to the clinic for help and further assessment.

Orientation is provided for all learners on how they should behave during class. They are advised to take precautions at all times i.e. regular hand sanitizing, proper use of masks, and observing social distance at all times.

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CHALLENGES

  • Some schools were not ready as they had poor sanitation, no water and Personal Protective Equipment was not delivered on time.
  • Students not adhering to Corvid-19 precaution measures i.e. taking off masks, sitting in groups without social distance.
  • Primary School students find it difficult to wear masks for long and some lose them.
  • Absenteeism led to poor attendance. Others chose to learn at home using online lessons.
  • Vulnerable students who benefited from the feeding scheme were not able to have daily meals when phasing out excluded certain grades to avoid overcrowding.
  • Students not yet back at school get bored being at home. Some roam the streets engaging in bad behaviour like smoking, stealing alcohol and substance abuse.

PROGRESS

  • Learning continued well with all necessary protocols and time for teaching was extended to allow learners to catch up.
  • Mobile toilets were provided for surrounding schools which had poor sanitation.
  • Feeding scheme continue to provide meals for students.
  • Regular monitoring of schools by parents, the School Governing body (SGB) and Department of Education officials ensures students and staff are well protected.

MORE THAN 1000 STUDENTS WERE SCREENED – 360 FROM PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND 640 FROM MEETSHETSELHA AND LESEDING SECONDARY SCHOOLS. SCREENING STATISTICS ARE CAPTURED AND SENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION CIRCUIT OFFICE FOR RECORD KEEPING AND REPORTING.

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~Mobile toilets for schools~

STATISTICS

Total number of students who came for consultation – 100

Medical issues15 (Depression, HIV, Pre-eclampsia in pregnancy, Asthma, Urinary tract Infection, Bilharzia, dental abscess, conjunctivitis and eczema)

Social Matters 50 (luck of food, dysfunctional families, poor living conditions, gender- based violence, alcohol and substance abuse)

Minor ailments 17 (headaches, menstrual pain, allergy, soft tissue injury, fatigue, dizziness and nausea)

Pregnant 12  (4 Meetshetshehla School, 6 Leseding and 2 from Mahlasedi primary school)

Counselling 6 (Adherence, Nutrition, HIV/STI preventative measures, access to contraceptives)

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FUTURE PLANS

To continue supporting those learners who are at home with study guides using television, radio broadcasting and a WhatsApp group for those who have phones.

Vulnerable students who benefit from the feeding scheme will receive weekly food parcels to ensure they have a meal during lockdown. Arrangements will be put in place for collection time and days.

Screening will continue for those attending school and those at home whenever the need arises or during home visits.

Psychological and emotional counselling will be provided for students as many are stressed due to change of curriculum and how to cope with the pandemic i.e. some are scared, feel unsafe or exhausted due to extended learning periods.

E-learning will benefit many kids as they will access whatever subjects they are attending using the app.

Phasing out of attending schools for certain grades will continue and more students will be able to return to school to catch up.

Schools are closed for two weeks and will re-open from 3rd and 10th August 2020

The rest of the students return from 24th August when winter is over but this depends on how stable the number of infection rate is.

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Compiled By: Grace Ismail (School nurse/Counsellor)

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