Benefits for children going back to school outweigh risks: expert

Education Minister Angie Motshekga's announcement that schools will re-open for grades 7 and 12 from the first of June has drawn mixed responses from parents. Courtesy #DStv403

JOHANNESBURG - Some school pupils are set to return to school soon.

According to Paediatrician, Dr Fiona Kritzinger, the benefits for children of going back to school outweigh the risks of contracting the virus.

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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced that Grade 7 and 12 will be the first group of learners to start learning on 1 June.

“My advice to parents is that we should try as best we can to get children back to school. I think we are neglecting to see the harms done to these children by keeping them in extended lockdown. And I think the data suggests, that what we getting from the Netherlands, China, Australia, Taiwan, Sweden, is that kids are not the super spreaders that we thought they were or going to be based on data from influenza pandemics,” said Kritzinger.

“When it comes to COVID[-19], I do think the benefits for children to return to school, return to normal routines, actually outweighs the risk at this point in time, especially if your child does not have underlying serious conditions...” she added.

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Kritzinger says children who have asthma should be able to go to school, provided they are on adequate treatment.

She says even though there's no data for children with tuberculosis (TB), they should be able to go to school, provided that they are on medication and responding well.

“One has to remember that the data that I was referring to is not the same social circumstances that we have in South Africa. But I think the bottom line is those children who are most vulnerable may be the same children who do not have access to e-learning platforms, who may be not safe at home, who may not have food at home, so again you can't make a blanket statement. I think it's about individualising risk and balancing that risk also with the harms of not going to school,” she added.​



Watch the full interview above for more.