The Gauteng Department of Health has come under fire for allegedly distributing masks that do not comply with the standards of the National Department of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Parents have raised concern over their children’s safety at schools while some have called for another shut down of schools until they are adequately prepared to receive learners.
Last week, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that 95 percent of schools were ready to receive learners after a week-long delay to ensure that all schools have personal protective equipment for the learners.
The Gauteng Education Department says it is engaging with the Gauteng Department of Health to establish the procurement process of the masks that have been distributed to some schools.
Department Spokesperson Steve Mabona says, “The Department of Health is responsible for procuring the masks and any other PPEs that we would have received from them. So we just give them the budget but as the department, we received masks and we have raised the concern that the quality of some of the masks…”
“We will interact with the Department of Health to check on the service providers that have been utilised to procure some of those masks. Engagements with the Department of Health have already commenced to say that the quality of some of the masks is questionable,” added Mabona.
Some parents still reluctant to send children back to school
Meanwhile, the Gauteng Department of Health has assured parents that the masks provided to learners is of the standard identified by the National Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry.
Spokesperson Motalatale Modiba says, “When a supplier delivers, before we even accept the stock we need to go through a checklist to check whether this was the right quantity they’ve delivered, what you have ordered and the agreement is that we do not pay suppliers when they have failed to deliver and secondly, when the delivered material is of inferior quality to what we would have specified in our request for quotation.”
“Sometimes, because of large quantities that are being ordered, some material seeps through that is not of the right quality and that’s where now, we constantly are engaging with the Department of Education to ensure that where there aren’t those kinds of incidents, those are immediately addressed. We do understand the concern that parents would be raising at a time like this and where people feel that the quality is not of the right standard, we are more than willing to re-evaluate,” says Modiba.
The National Association of Parents in School Governance has called for the immediate shut down of schools that do not have the necessary PPEs.
The association has lambasted Motshekga accusing her of disregarding the lives of children.
President of the association Mahlomola Kekana says, “We are very disappointed that our children are subjected to the poor quality of masks that are supposed to be used to protect them as part of the personal protective equipment. They have taken short cuts, just like they have taken short cuts with the reopening of schools without listening to views. In the meantime, every school that does not comply, that does not have PPEs must be shut down immediately until PPEs can be provided.”
Some schools have allegedly invested in tunnel sanitizers despite experts warning of their danger and ineffectiveness.
Epidemiologist and Chair of Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s COVID-19 advisory committee, Salim Abdool Karim has warned that the tunnels pose a danger to human health and should not be permitted.
Grade 12 learner at Grey College in Bloemfontein tests positive for COVID-19
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