The department of basic education announced last week that, once again, a ban was to be placed on all school contact sport.
This announcement came as fears of a potential third Covid-19 wave grow.
“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,” the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) said in a statement last week.
“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.”
According to Stirling High School deputy headmaster Alan Webster, the timing of the announcement was a surprise to schools but such a decision had been expected.
“[There was] no official warning, but it was clear that there was a real concern about the safety of contact sports,” he said.
While this has meant a sudden stop of sports such as rugby, Webster said that some sports were allowed to continue.
“The regulations do allow for all non-contact sports to continue, which we will do, such as cross-country, tennis, golf, biathlon, swimming, etc.
“Our contact-sport participants have also transitioned back to the outside gym training and running that they were doing previously.
“We have a wide array of extra-murals which will continue, though with additional focus on safety,” said Webster.
He said that while plenty of students may be disappointed by the forced cancellation of certain events, the school was trying its best to continue on “as normal”.
“Academics are more of a focus than ever before; our cultural and pastoral programmes continue; we are able to celebrate successes with awards and recognition; students are involved in charity and community work; and our fields are still full of teenagers getting exercise and being with their peers – safely,” Webster said.
“We have found that, with the restrictions of the past year, students are generally quicker to sign up for opportunities than previously, and are grabbing the chances on offer.”