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Parents in a tizz over school closures

Schools, crèches and after-care centres in the Overstrand closed this week as a Covid-19 preventative measure, leaving many working parents in difficult situations.

In his declaration of a national state of disaster on Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that all schools – Early Childhood Development centres, crèches, after-care centres – would be shut on Wednesday 18 March.

One local mother of a 4-year-old who works full-time said she wouldn’t know what to do when schools close. “We have no family in Hermanus, and all my friends also work full time. The only option I have is to send my child to her grandmother, who is 200 km away.” She has appealed to her employer to “come to the party”, and give some leeway to working parents.

Jacquie Rathfelder, founder of Just Care Aftercare in Mount Pleasant, which cares for about 100 children, told Hermanus Times the facility was obliged to close, and she was very concerned about the children’s well-being.

She said: “As this extended holiday is unplanned the parents did not have enough time to make alternative arrangements and we worry about the children being at home unsupervised. We need to take this situation very seriously and teach our children about possible dangers.” Rathfelder has called on communities to stand together and find a working solution to address this problem. She hoped businesses would take everything into consideration and be sympathetic to employees who had nowhere to leave their children. “It is time now for communities to stand together and help one another. Women who are at home can take in three or four children, so that they are supervised and not wandering the streets.”

Rathfelder also called on parents and carers to keep children occupied constructively.

She pointed out that staff at Just Care would continue working there, doing renovations and getting ready for the new school term, which is expected to start on Tuesday 14 April.

“Just Care receives food from Checkers and Pick n Pay Hermanus two or three times a week. We will distribute this to the children’s families and our workers.”

Hermanus Pre-Primary School also had to close on Tuesday 17 March. Principal Lorna Such shared the same sentiments, and believes some positivity can come from the chaos. “We have the opportunity, once again, to teach our children the importance of hygiene and encourage parents who have the time to prepare their children for the next school term.” She added it was everyone’s responsibility to instil hygienic practices and remain calm.

Schools are set to reopen after the Easter weekend, on Tuesday 14 April.

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