Andrew Kathindi

Namibia has recorded its first school COVID-19 case after a 20-year-old learner from Mariental High School in the Hardap region tested positive for the virus on Thursday.

The learner is case number 37 who travelled from Walvis Bay, a current hotbed for the rising COVID-19 cases in the country and attended school on 11th of June.

This comes less than a month since over 49,000 learners in grade 11 and 12 across the country returned to school as part of the first phase of the Ministry of Education’s roll out plan to resume face to face teaching.

Ministry of Education Executive Director, Sanet Steenkamp in a statement said the ministry had resolved to suspend classes at the school for 14 days.

“As the ministry we are mindful of the seriousness of this situation and the responsibilities we have. The Ministry on the advice from MOHSS, has today with immediate effect suspended classes for a period of 14 days until 6 July and hostel boarders will remain in the hostel for the next 14 days. In addition, one teacher and 13 learners were taken into quarantine today,” said Ministry of Education Executive Director, Sanet Steenkamp.

Mariental High School principal, Albertus Stein called for the school community to remain calm and cooperative.

“All high-risk close contact cases will be quarantined at the Hardap Dam resort, all classrooms and the hostel will be disinfected; all hostel boarders will be kept in quarantine at the school hostel for 14 days starting Thursday 18 June until 6 July.”

“Parents and guardians are urged to practice social distancing, ensure that all the learners from outside be in self isolation and keep good personal hygiene. All workers, learners, teachers and parents of the school be cautious of any flu-like symptoms and report them immediately at the COVID-19 screening centre at the Old Bank Windhoek Building in town (Mariental),” said Stein.

This comes after 98 teachers and 1800 learners have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks in neighbouring South Africa when its schools reopened, a position which has led to the closure of 16 schools in the Western Cape.

The latest development has created a predicament for the ministry as it continues face-to-face teaching roll-out plans, with Pre-Primary to grade 3 students set to start classes on Monday 22 June, while grades 7 and 9 are scheduled to resume their classes on 6 July 2020 and finally phase 4 will consist of the return of grades 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10 on 20 July.

All grades will continue with classes until 18 December 2020.