All contact sports in schools have been suspended with immediate effect from Wednesday.
This is the word from the council of education ministers after their virtual meeting. The council said it had taken the decision amid a surge in coronavirus infections since schools reopened for the second term.
“During the last week of term one, school sports activity-related Covid-19 outbreaks in Gauteng were reported and have been gradually increasing in term two. It is evident that despite following the protocols as guided by the directions on extramural activities and standard operating procedure on the prevention, containment and management of Covid-19 in schools, contact sports events still contribute to the spread of Covid-19,” read a statement from the council.
“Following the school sports activities-related Covid-19 outbreaks in Gauteng and general rise of cases in communities across the country, the outbreak response team (ORT) said the risk was high when engaged in close-contact sports, especially with people who did not live together,” it added.
Therefore, only non-contact sports which could be performed with social distancing and other safety measures in place, are permitted.
The council said it would issue a notice if this stance changed.
“In this regard, all sporting activities have been suspended with immediate effect until the clusters outbreak is over, with no further cases reported, including the preparatory school sport. The department will continue to monitor the situation. A government gazette will be issued with the notice in the coming days,” the council continued.
While talk of suspending school sports has been on the cards for a few days, the Association of Public Boys’ Schools of SA had pleaded with basic education minister Angie Motshekga not to enforce a total sports ban.
The association’s Tim Gordon argued that not all provinces were being affected by rising Covid-19-numbers, adding that a blanket approach was unnecessary.
“We believe that there can no longer be justification for a one-size-fits-all approach. There is a strong belief that cases should be dealt with on a regional, provincial or district level, or on merit,” Gordon said.
He said a number of schools were isolating and testing entire sports teams, even when they exhibited zero cross-infection.
“That is why a case-by-case, on merit process, must be followed,” he added.
Their request however, was not granted.