As classes resumed for about 2 million Grade R, 6 and 11 pupils nationwide yesterday, the learners of Simanyene High School in Strand were met with the devastating news that their deputy principal had passed away.
Fikile Cishe also taught history to the Grade 11s.
He was the 11th teacher to die of the Coronavirus in the country.
Teaching at the school was cancelled for the day and grieving pupils were sent home, while teachers held a prayer meeting for their fallen colleague.
Principal Monwabisi Matshoba, who was also a good friend of Cishe, confirmed that he died of Covid-19.
“He was last at the school on 12 June and was admitted to hospital from 16 June until he died,” he tells the Daily Voice.
A heartbroken Matshoba says he was in touch with his friend’s family every day and had hoped he would recover.
“When I called on Sunday to get an update, his son told me he is no more,” the palie says.
“He was going to retire this year. What a humble soul! He was older than me, but he respected me and did his work with pride.”
The school on Monday welcomed back nearly 300 Grade 11s, and about 300 Grade 12s are already at school.
Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond confirmed the death: “It is with sadness that I can confirm the passing of the Deputy Principal. Our sincere condolences to his family, friends and the school community.”
On Monday, there were again several protests against the reopening of schools in the Western Cape.
Teachers union Naptosa said schools are simply not ready to take on the next wave of pupils and recommends that the entire process be delayed until August.
It said more than 18 schools it visited last week did not have the required personal protection equipment to take on the new learners.
Faadil Kamish, the principal at Schotsche Kloof Primary School in Bo-Kaap, said they were especially concerned about the younger children, reports VOCFM.
“We are totally against the Grade Rs returning. How are we going to ensure that those six-year-old children are going to adhere to the social distancing, washing of the hands or keeping on their masks for the whole day? I can’t see that happening,” the principal said.
“If authorities are using their common sense, they would understand that putting Grade Rs in school at this moment is like a death sentence, not to those learners but the people around them, their parents and even the teachers who have comorbidities.”
There were also pickets in Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha, Bishop Lavis and Somerset West among other areas.
Basic Education Minister Motshekga said on Sunday that 68 schools had been closed and then reopened; 2 477 teachers and 1 260 learners were infected; 11 teachers and four non-teaching staff had died; and three learners had died.
She added that “less than 1% of teachers have been affected out of 440 000 teachers”.
According to Motshekga, most of the infections were due to people failing to comply with health, safety and social distancing protocols.