News of Covid-19 shielding from School Nurse Grace in the Waterberg

DAILY DUTIES:

Routine screening of all learners continues to take place before they enter school premises, when temperatures are checked and a register is signed. We ensure pupils are wearing proper uniform and are not carrying any items that can cause danger to other learners. This gives the school nurse an opportunity to identify learners who hide their pregnancy.

All staff members and any guests are also screened to ensure preventative measures are adhered to. Motivational speakers came from different political parties, the Department of Education, private companies and religious leaders who came to motivate learners during this hard time and to encourage them to study so they can achieve their dreams.

This was the last academic term for all schools in South Africa, with final examinations for grade 12’s. All other grades continued to attend in a phased manner, on weekly rotation, writing tests to enable them progress to the next grade.

Earlier in the year, Grade 12 learners in the Waterberg district attended a 10-day preparatory camp, run by the Department of Education, to prepare them for final examinations.

PROGRESS:

  1. Schooling continued without interruptions or problems.
  2. Grade 12’s wrote their examinations successfully.
  3. Social media communication with parents from certain schools helps circulate info, using a WhatsApp group and a Facebook page.
  4. Media learning (through TV and radio) helps learners to study whilst at home. 
  5. Extra classes were provided for learners to ensure they catch up from where they lacked with teachers willing to help.

Regular visits and monitoring of teachers by the Department of Education has ensured they are maintaining teaching standards.

The assistant agent Josias also helped the grade 12 on how to apply for University bursaries with the required information needed. This gave learners more courage and strength for the upcoming final examination.

The Mayor talking to learners at Meetsetshehla Secondary School

CHALLENGES encountered from September to December 2020

  1. Stress and anxiety cases are seen in learners due to pressure of studying for long hours together with a lot of schoolwork and assignments to be completed.
  2. I encountered two cases of teenage girls attempting suicide, one due to family issues and the other in denial to her positive HIV test from the clinic. Counselling sessions were conducted and will continue during the one-week holiday through home visits.
  3. Learners who are abusing drugs are finding it hard to cope with study as they are tired, feel weak and lack concentration.
  4. Some over-age learners are stuck in the junior phase. e.g. A 21-year-old still in grade 8 continues to come to school without progressing. The grandmother who is her carer refuses to allow her to go to a special school. There are several in this category. I plan to address this matter with the School Governing Body (SGB) and School Management Team (SMT) .
  5. Gender-based violence has increased among learners due to petty issues. Those found guilty go to a disciplinary hearing.
  6. Some pregnant learners are hiding pregnancies until a late stage and the policy regarding return to school after delivery is not being followed. I plan to raise this matter with the SGB and SMT.
  7. There is no internet access from the nursing office, therefore, I receive messages late and am unable to communicate with stakeholders on time when invited for meetings, other events or to send reports. The solution has been to provide monthly data.

Challenges due to Covid-19

  1. Some learners remove their masks when in class and some forget them at home.
  2.  No physical activities for learners to keep them busy due to the Corvid restrictions e.g. Sports, gardening and athletics
  3. Little ones from Primary Schools are not coping with wearing of masks and need close assistance.
  4. Some learners are not coping with the phasing of school attendance programme, requiring them to stay at home during rotational schedules.
  5. Some learners dropped out of school and are staying at home and some engaged in bad behavioural acts like drinking alcohol and substance abuse and domestic violence.
Preparing for a home economics class

STATISTICS for September-October when 95 learners were consulted individually:

Medical issues: 25 (Asthmatic, Epilepsy, Dental Abscess, depression, and HIV, Poor Vision and ear infections)

Social Issues: 45 (family problems, lack of support, No food at home and no proper clothes, suicidal attempts, self-stigma, depression

Substance Abuse: 10 (5 from Meetsetshehla and 3 school-dropouts and 2 from Leseding High School)

Counselling: 15 (HIV & Stigma, dangers of substance abuse, teenage pregnancy & how to deal with depression)

Pregnant: 6 (3 Meetsetshehla Secondary School & 3 from Leseding High School)

*********

STATISTICS for November-December when 100 learners were consulted individually:

Medical Issues: 25 (Herpes Zoster, HIV/STI, Dog bite, Asthma, Epilepsy, Visual Impairment)

Social Issues: 35 (Substance abuse, Family issues, no food at home, poor living conditions and lack of parental support)

Counselling: 25 (Depression, HIV Adherence and prevention, Contraception benefits and side effects, ways for substance and alcohol withdrawal Syndrome)

Pregnant: 8 (5 Meetsetshehla and 3 Leseding High Schools)

Minor Issues: 7 (Menstrual issues, Headaches and dizziness)

NOTE: During final term number of learners who consulted were less as they don’t come to school every day when writing exams, they are given time to study at home before writing.

FUTURE PLANS: 

  1. To continue supporting learners who are faced with various challenges
  2. We hope to cooperate with a local pastor to establish a drug rehabilitation centre in Vaalwater, which will benefit many youths who are struggling with addiction.

If you would like to sponsor school children by providing school shoes or washable sanitary pads, please click here

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