Teachers at the marking centre at Piet Retief High school are still busy in full swing, despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Mpumalanga Department of Education had to make a few changes and adjustments to the marking centres in Mpumalanga due to Covid-19. Changes implemented were that the number of marking centres had to be increased to ensure social distancing could be implemented by the markers and to accommodate the increased number of scripts to be marked. The markers started the process on Monday 4 January 2021 and are expected to finish on Friday 22 January. Results are expected to be released on 23 February 2021. Due to Covid-19, there is a possibility that the dates could change or be extended.
All markers received two days of orientation on arrival at the marking centres (5 January to 6 January). They were all screened on the day of arrival and screening will continue on a daily basis to ensure the health and safety of each marker. They must comply with the Covid-19 protocols by the wearing of masks, social distancing, sanitising and washing hands. Only disposable eating utensils are used and groups are set up for collecting food to avoid big gatherings.
Teacher unions in Mpumalanga stated that there were a few positive Covid-19 cases reported in the province. A few markers withdrew from marking but, the reasons, therefore, were personal problems and not Covid-19 related problems.
The Education MEC (Member of the Executive Council) visited two marking centres in Middelburg and was satisfied with the progress of the marking and the protocols followed by the markers to ensure the safety of all.
Piet Retief High School is home to 140 people (6 administrative personnel, 104 markers and 30 examination assistants) that came from all over Mpumalanga. It is recorded that all markers spent 10 hours daily on marking examination papers.
All personnel involved in the marking process were not allowed to leave the premises of the school. The reason was that they had to try and ensure the health of all markers so that no one could get exposed to Covid-19. There was a case of a marker who didn’t adhere to protocol and went to town. He was asked to vacate the premises the following day.
The qualification needed to be eligible as a marker is that you need to be a FET-phase (Further Education and Training) teacher of the specific subject you are applying to mark. It is also recommended that markers should be teaching Gr 12 pupils. Markers write the exam paper to determine which question they will be responsible to mark.
One of the markers at Piet Retief High School tested positive for Covid-19. He was immediately placed in isolation. His roommate was also placed in a separate isolation room and had to stay there until his results were known. The Director of Education in Mpumalanga advised the school on what steps to follow regarding the positive Covid-19 case.
Something interesting that was observed by Miss Ansa Gersbach (the head matron of Piet Retief High School) is that the food purchases that were prepared over this time period were: 540kg mealie-meal, 655kg red meat, 900ℓ milk, 3 900 cartons of fruit juice, 606kg chicken, 1 000 loaves of bread and 350 dozen eggs. All these products were purchased from local vendors.