by Taati Niilenge

SEVERAL pupils from Walvis Bay, who attend schools at Swakopmund, were sent home after reporting for class last week.

SNEAKING INTO SCHOOL … Children from Walvis Bay were among the pupils who started school last week at Swakopmund. Leaving and entering Walvis Bay is prohibited during Walvis Bay’s repeated stage 1 lockdown. Photo: Contributed.

Schools around the country, with the exception of those at Walvis Bay, resumed face-to-face learning last Wednesday for Grades 11 and 12.

At least 11 pupils were sent home to Walvis Bay after attempting to attend classes at Swakopmund.

Sibanga Sinvula, principal of Swakopmund Secondary School, told The Namibian last week she was surprised to see pupils from Walvis Bay, which had to repeat stage 1 lockdown.

“We discovered there were 11 pupils from Walvis Bay who were already sitting with the others. Only two of them had permits to enter Swakopmund. Unfortunately, none of them were allowed to enter Swakopmund until after the lockdown.

“Those with permits allegedly got them from the Tutaleni Police Station at Kuisebmond. The rest managed to get here without permits somehow, which surprised us. We notified the regional office and were told to send them back to Walvis Bay until the lockdown was lifted,” Sinvula told The Namibian.

He said he wondered how taxi drivers and private cars managed to get the children to Swakopmund.

He said he received a call from a pupil at the Tutaleni Police Station and had to confirm to officers that the pupil was registered at the school before they issued a permit.

The principal did not give his permission for the pupil to return to school until after the lockdown.

Alina Imbili, vice chairperson of Nantu Swakopmund, who visited the school last week to observe their health and safety measures against Covid-19, says she was worried about the issue, and questioned how pupils from Walvis Bay were allowed to enter Swakopmund.

“It is an administrative issue. Let them [authorities] contact us through the administration channels.We have some letters of support from education inspectors to issue travel permits to some teachers and pupils. We need to avoid stigma. The public should also understand about 20% of Walvis Bay’s workforce lives at Swakopmund,” Imbili said.

Inspector Ileni Shapumba, police unit commander for community affairs in the Erongo region says issues were ironed out last week.

“When I arrived at the first school, there was a bottle of sanitiser, but no exact point of entry. I assumed I needed to sanitise my hands. I did not find anyone there to check my temperature. Many classroom windows were closed due to the cold. Some windows were broken. There is a need for air to circulate – especially now that people are breathing through masks. I advised them to open windows during intervals,” she says.

Shapumba says she was satisfied that classes were divided into groups of 20 and that social distancing was taken seriously.

Pupils were screened and sanitised upon arrival, before entering the premises, and were wearing masks, she says.

Teachers were, however, complaining that the screening process takes too long.

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