A total of 159 teachers have died of Covid since January alone, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said on Sunday.
The minister was giving an update on the readiness of public schools which reopen today.
“The figures indicate that 1 169 educators have passed away of Covid-19. This year alone, up to 12 February, the number of educators stands at 159,” Motshekga said.
She said 19 pupils in eight provinces have died of Covid since the pandemic broke out in South Africa in 2020.
Data on pupil fatalities in the Eastern Cape will become available this week.
Motshekga, who herself suffered from “a severe case” of Covid-19 late last year, said 250 000 young people have been employed under the auspices of the Basic Education Employment Initiative as teaching assistants and general assistants to help teachers.
The new jobs were created as part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fiscus stimulus package announced in April last year.
R2 billion has been allocated to SGB-funded schools, Motshekga said.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Teachers Organisation of SA (Naptosa) on Saturday welcomed the reopening of schools, saying it was an opportunity to get pupils back at their desks.
Executive director for Naptosa Basil Manuel said: “Naptosa has always supported the reopening of schools and we have had conditions that the schools be safe and health concerns addressed.”
As part of preventative measures, the Department of Basic Education has implemented a rotation system to limit the number of pupils attending school at any given day.
Motshekga is due to release the matric results next Monday, 22 February.