Advocacy group Equal Education (EE) has urged government and school communities to allow Covid-19 positive matric learners to write their exams – but under strict observation of the rules.
This was said on Thursday ahead of the final exam schedule for the class of 2020, following a year of disruptions, trauma and confusion.
Thousands of school staff members and learners were affected by the pandemic. But as the year drew to a close, EE conveyed a reminder to schools that despite the fear and stigma, matric learners who were Covid-19 positive were allowed to write exams, in line with the protocol developed by the Department of Basic Education. A circular on these protocols was sent to stakeholders in this regard.
EE warned that provincial education department officials should follow this protocol. Parents and caregivers had the right to demand that arrangements be made for their Covid-19 positive children to write the exams. To ignore the protocols and prevent matric learners from writing the exams, EE warned, was a violation of the constitutional right to education.
“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,’ said the group in a statement.
“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 identified by provincial education departments, included clinics, rooms in hospitals, community and church halls.
Teachers could not be forced to oversee the writing of exams at isolation venues, EE added. The task of invigilating at isolation venues could be given to specially trained health officials, teachers or exam officials.
The combined examination for Senior Certificate and National Senior Certificate candidates made this the largest cohort of candidates, with 1,058,699 expected to sit for their examinations from 5 November to 15 December 2020.