Equal Education media statement: Reminder to school communities that matric learners who are Covid-19 positive are allowed to write exams, in line with the protocol developed by the Department of Basic Education
19 November 2020
Equal Education affirms that matric learners who have tested positive for Covid-19, but feel well enough to write exams, should be able to do so - in line with the protocol developed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE). The aim of the protocol is to ensure the safety of both learners and exam officials. It is critical that learners, parents/caregivers and teachers are aware of the protocol and understand it, so that learners are not prevented from writing the final exams.
Provincial education department officials must follow this protocol, and parents/caregivers have the right to demand that arrangements (in the protocol) must be made for their children to write the exams. To ignore the protocol and prevent matric learners from writing the exams is a violation of the Constitutional right to education.
It is very important that parents/caregivers or learners tell their school if learners have tested positive for Covid-19 immediately after receiving the test results, so that the necessary arrangements can be made for learners to write the exams at an “isolation venue” that meets the health and safety rules.
Isolation venues have been identified by the Department of Health and the provincial education departments. They include clinics, rooms in hospitals, community halls, church halls, or homes, that have decided are suitable for writing exams. The three golden rules must be strictly followed at these venues: physical distancing of at least 1.5m, wearing face masks at all times, and hand sanitising.
Teachers cannot be forced to oversee the writing of exams at isolation venues. Exam invigilators at isolation venues can be health officials, teachers, or exam officials - but they must be trained to do this.
The protocol developed by the DBE also says that learners who arrive to write exams, but have temperatures above 38 degrees or answer “yes” to two or more of the questions on the screening questionnaire, must also write the exams at an isolation venue.
A circular (formal written instruction) explaining this information was sent from the DBE on 8 November, to all principals, teachers unions, and school governing body associations.
While Covid-19 has severely disrupted schooling this year and has impacted learners from under resourced schools especially badly, learners must be given the opportunity to take on this milestone that they have worked extremely hard to reach despite many injustices.
Issued by Jay-Dee Cyster, EE Communications Officer, 19 November 2020