As you can imagine, things have been complicated in South Africa regarding children returning to schools and crèches (pre-schools). On the 6th of July 2020 Vhutshilo Mountain School re-opened for eight students in grade R and six students in grade 1. On the 31st of July we closed due to protests against schools opening by both civil society organizations and political parties.
Amid the various opinions and confusion, the government announced all schools and all grades will re-open on the 24th of August. We are planning to re-open on the 25th for pre-schoolers ages 3 to 4, grade R ages 5 to 6 and grade 1 ages 6 to 7 with all Covid compliant safety precautions in place. Children below 3 years of age will not return at this time due to social distancing concerns. However, vulnerable students will be allowed to return to school if their home situation is difficult.
Our teachers continue home visits to students for private lesson and to educate the family about self-care regarding COVID-19. They also assess if the children are in good health and have food to eat. During recent home visits, we discovered a shortage of food and high stress levels among children not attending school. Most of the time children are left in the care of older siblings and we often observed fighting amongst each other. Many of our children are not safe at home and we feel home visits will help prevent child abuse. VMS will continue to provide vegetables from the garden to all families in need and next week we will begin delivering food parcels.
Over the past few weeks in our community two families tested positive for COVID-19. So far none of VMS’s staff members have been affected. However, we are concerned for our HIV+ children/youth as they are vulnerable. We encourage them to keep up with their HIV treatment and to follow all the safety rules about Covid19. Given all that we and the world are going through, we continue to be grateful for each day and remain hopeful that life will soon be better.
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