Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Pretoria: The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) has pulled the plug on all contact sports with immediate effect, following COVID-19 cluster outbreaks in public schools.

According to the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the decision was taken during a virtual meeting held on Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, the department said non-contact sports training is permitted to proceed provided all social distancing, hygiene and safety measures are observed and there is zero physical contact between the participants.

Minister Angie Motshekga gazetted directions in consultation with related stakeholders allowing non-contact sports, sports-related activities, school-based art, and cultural activities to resume without spectators when the schools reopened this year.

According to the department, this was subject to adherence to health and safety measures.

“During the last week in term one, school sports activity related COVID-19 outbreaks in Gauteng province were reported and have been gradually increasing in term two,” it said.

According to the department, it is evident that despite following the protocols as guided by the directions on extramural activities and standard operating procedure on prevention and containment of COVID-19 that contact sport was a contributor to the spread of the virus.

“Following the school sports activities related COVID-19 outbreaks in Gauteng and the general rise of cases in communities across the country, the Outbreak Response Team said that the risk was high when engaged within close-contact sports, especially with people who did not live together,” the department said.

SAnews reported last week that academic activities were suspended in two schools in Gauteng after 11 Coronavirus infections were detected in Krugersdorp High School and six at St John’s College.

“In this regard, all sporting activities have been suspended with immediate effect until the cluster outbreak is subsequently over with no further cases reported including the preparatory school sport.”

The department said it will continue to monitor the situation and announced that a government gazette will be issued with notice in the coming days.