Wearing masks in schools is not mandatory for everyone, says Motshekga

Following the government’s decision to lift all remaining Covid-19 regulations, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said mask-wearing in public schools would now be optional for students and teachers.

Health Minister Dr. Joe Fahla on Wednesday signed a note in government newspaper lifting of Covid-19 restrictions related to wearing masks indoors, restrictions on gatherings and screenings at ports of entry into the country.

The decision to lift the measures follows a decline in daily reported Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, as well as an increase in the natural immunity of the population.

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Motshekga announced this on Thursday. Department of Basic Education supported the lifting of the rest of the sanitary rules, however, students and staff who choose to wear masks at school can continue to do so.

“In accordance with this decision to lift the rules, the wearing of masks by students in classrooms and indoor gatherings is no longer mandatory.

“Those students and staff who wish to continue wearing a mask in schools will be allowed to take advantage of this option,” Motshekki said in a statement.

The minister added that her department continues to support the vaccination of all students aged 12 and over with parental consent.

1.9 million children vaccinated

Speaking at media briefing In Pretoria on Thursday, Fakhla said, as of June 22, 2022, 36.700 million doses of the vaccine had been administered to 20.09 million adults and 1.9 million children aged 12 to 17.

This meant that, on average, 50.48% (about 22 million) of South Africans received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“We welcome the high turnout of the 60+ age group, which is at risk with a turnout of 70.5%, and the next high risk in the 50-59 age group with a turnout of 66.17%.

“We believe that the high turnout in the 50+ age group has greatly contributed to the reduction in the severity of hospitalizations and deaths seen in the fourth wave and continuing to this day,” Fakhla said.

The Free State was the best-performing province in terms of the number of people who received injections, covering 60% of the adult population.

The Western Cape made up 57.37%, Limpopo 57%, Eastern Cape 54.53% and Northern Cape 51.45%.

In Gauteng Province, 5.4 million people were vaccinated at a rate of 47.8% along with KwaZulu-Natal. The North West and Mpumalanga covered less than 50%.

Fakhla warned that the lifting of restrictions on Covid-19 does not mean that the virus no longer exists.

“It is still among us, we are simply stronger than before, especially thanks to vaccination, and we encourage those who are not yet vaccinated to come forward, as well as those who need to be revaccinated.

“The vaccination program will remain and is now being integrated into regular health services.”

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