S/Africa orders ‘mask breaks’ for pupils as schools open

The South African government has ordered the country's schools to grant pupils “mask breaks” after every two hours to prevent…

The South African government has ordered the country’s schools to grant pupils “mask breaks” after every two hours to prevent carbon dioxide retention, APA learnt here on Monday.According to media reports monitored here, the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) has ordered the Department of Basic Education to ensure that pupils are given a mask break every two hours “to ensure they do not get carbon dioxide retention.”

The mask break “entails going outdoors and removing their masks, and breathing for approximately 5-15 minutes,” the MAC memo said. 

The directive comes as South African schools opened for the return of primary school pupils on Monday. Schools have been closed since June 28 following the introduction of stricter Level 4 COVID-19 restrictions to contain a surge in infections.

According to the advisory by the MAC, all primary schools were to open at full capacity and ensure that pupils maintain a physical distance of at least one metre within classrooms.

High schools can also immediately bring back all pupils if the one metre physical distancing is maintained.

“Where this is not possible, attendance on a rotational basis should continue presently acknowledging the relatively higher risk of Covid-transmission and illness in children aged 15 to 19 years.”

South Africa has the continent’s highest number of COVID-19 infections, with 2.46 million reported cases and over 72,000 deaths since March 2020.

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