The TeacherConnect innovation launched on Tuesday is a one-stop digital solution for teachers and learners in South Africa which will assist the phased-in reopening of all public schools amid Covid-19, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said.
The TeacherConnect tool, used via WhatsApp messaging, is an innovation of the department of basic education in partnership with the Community and Individual Development Association and the Maharishi Invincibility Institute.
This tool we are launching today aligns with the National Health Department’s protocol on screening, testing and linkage to care … This tool puts non-pharmaceutical measures firmly in the hands of our teachers, non-teaching staff, parents, and learners,” Motshekga said.
To use the app, users must log into the platform and answer a few simple questions relating to Covid-19 symptoms and risks. Teachers, and the whole school community are required to do the health check daily.
Upon completion, the app makes suggestions based on National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and department of health guidelines, namely to self-isolate, test for Covid-19 or seek emergency care.
Before entering the school premises, learners and staff must show that they have completed the daily health check, Motshekga said. Those classified as moderate or high risk are entered into the health department’s tracking and tracing process.
“This is part and parcel of our final assault against the Covid-19 pandemic as we gradually open the economy to save livelihoods and public schooling,” the basic education minister said.
“While doing so, we have learnt elsewhere that there are serious risks associated with lifting lockdown restrictions too soon, or in an unsystematic and disorderly manner.”
She said the government remained committed to its moral and constitutional obligations to save lives as the country grappled with the coronavirus, adding:
“As a country, we have managed the pandemic in a spectacular successful fashion.”
The TeacherConnect tool provides a convenient way to communicate and includes learning and teaching content, as well as development and support resources. It affords users the ability to connect, be a helpdesk and provide learning, mentoring and tracking through real-time dashboards.
“This innovative … platform integrates with HealthCheck – a national department of health self-screening initiative,” said Motshekga.
HealthCheck is a Covid-19 digital risk assessment and mapping tool which allows for the early detection, mapping, management and pre-screening of Covid-19 cases.
With school communities expected to do a quick and convenient daily symptom-check, the department of basic education said HealthCheck would provide a much needed early-warning system.
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