WC working with schools to implement contingency plans

Pretoria � The MEC for Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Schaffer, says officials at the department's district offices are working with schools to implement contingency plans following heavy storms, which hit the province and left 135 schools damaged.

Learners and educators returned to school on Thursday following their closure on Wednesday due to severe weather.

MEC Schaffer said while he was pleased that learning and teaching resumed almost immediately in most schools, there were a number of schools that were harder hit by the storm and as a result, teaching and learning may be suspended for more days.

By Thursday, 135 schools had reported storm damage to our Safe Schools Call Centre, with 41 schools reporting damage to their roofs. There are exceptions at some schools that have been severely damaged by the storm. Our district officials are working with schools to implement contingency plans.

Schools have also reported water damage to classrooms, fallen trees and damage to fences. We are reporting all cases immediately to the Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works, said MEC Schaffer.

The Head of Transport and Public Works has activated emergency procurement measures, which will make provision for schools to ensure that facilities are made safe where damage has occurred, and allow for minor repairs to prevent further damage to buildings.

The department's work inspectors have already visited the worst hit schools. Once we have received the reports on all schools, the total cost of damages and the extent of damages, we will determine the strategy going forward and the prioritisation of [repair] works, MEC Schaffer said.

She said schools need to be made operational as soon as possible, which means that they have to prioritise damages that affect the core functioning of schools, such as damage to classrooms, ablutions and administration blocks.

The department will fix minor damages as soon as possible. Major repairs will take longer. These will need further investigation and procurement procedures, and it is too early to assess the costs involved.

Schaffer thanked parents, principals and teachers for their understanding and their willingness to work with the department's officials in meeting these challenges positively.

Source: South African Government News Agency