News & events


Getting children back to school safely

29 May 2020
11:00 - 13:00

Date: 29 May 2020      

Time: 11h00 – 13h00

Listen to the podcast of this webinar

Professor Refiloe Masekela
(University of KwaZuluNatal)

Professor Sithembiso Velaphi 
(University of Witwatersrand)

Dr Moherndran Archary
(University of KwaZuluNatal)

Dr Vijay Reddy
(Human Sciences Research Council)

Dr Nic Spaull
(University of Stellenbosch)

If you missed the webinar, you can watch the recording on the HSRC’s YouTube channel:

Introduction by Prof Vijay Reddy

Do children get Covid 19? by Prof Refiloe Masekela

Are children Covid-19 super-spreaders? Prof Sithembiso Velaphi (University of Witwatersrand)

How can we make schools relatively safe? Dr Moherndran Archary

Conclusion by Dr Vijay Reddy

Please click on the link below to download the presentation by Mo Archary :

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on South Africa, including on the lives of children. The nation-wide lockdown period and subsequent school closures were necessary to slow the rate of new infections while preparing society and the healthcare system during the early phase of the epidemic in South Africa. Based on the current understanding, the COVID-19 epidemic will continue for at least the next 1-2 years and therefore maintaining school closures until the end of the epidemic is unrealistic and detrimental to children. 

The advice from health experts, in the current phase of the epidemic, is that children need to return to school, and early childhood development (ECD) centres in a responsible manner as quickly as possible, provided there are reasonable safeguards and protocols for children, educators and other staff. On 19 May 2020, the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshegka announced that schools will re-open, in a phased manner, from 1 June 2020.

This seminar, from paediatric medical experts, discusses the risk levels for school going children through three questions.

1. Do children get Covid-19? Professor Refiloe Masekela
Prof Masekela is a Paediatric Pulmonologist and the Head of Department of Paediatrics and Child Health at the University of KwaZuluNatal. Her research interests are Bronchiectasis in children; both in HIV infected children as well as in cystic fibrosis.
2. Are children Covid-19 super-spreaders? Professor Sithembiso Velaphi
Professor Velaphi is the Head of Paediatrics at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Associate Professor at University of the Witwatersrand. He specialises in paediatric neonatology. He is a member of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee.
3. How can we make schools relatively safe? Dr Moherndran Archary
Dr Archary is a paediatric infectious disease specialist at King Edward VIII Hospital and is affiliated to the University of KwaZuluNatal. He is involved with the management of children with HIV, both locally and nationally. He is a member of the  Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). The views and opinions expressed therein as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of the DSI. Please also note that this seminar may be recorded and published on the HSRC podcast channel.

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