Teacher dies of coronavirus

Dereck Dreyer

Queens Park High School in Woodstockismourning the loss of popular teacher, Dereck Dreyer, 56, who died on Monday July 13 after contracting Covid-19.

His sister, Sharon Dreyer, said her brother had been admitted to Rondebosch Medical Centre at the end of June.

“As the Covid-19 started to clear from the lungs, I was told that he had an infection in his blood which was treated and they then had to put him on dialysis for two days before he died having a massive cardiac failure.”

Ms Dreyer said it was an emotional time for the family because her brother had died on the fourth anniversary of their father, Ferdinand Dreyer’s death.

Mr Dreyer grew up in Bonteheuwel and was in education for more than 30 years, 20 of them as a teacher at Silverstream High School in Manenberg and 11 years at Queens Park. He also taught briefly in Kuwait and at Belgravia High School.

Queens Park’s acting principal, Nicolene Abrahams, said Mr Dreyer had been one of the most professional people to work with.

“He was approachable and could be asked advice, particularly in the region of politics or matters pertaining to discipline within the circle of educators.”

Ms Abrahams said it was hard working under Covid-19 conditions as one did not know who would be next. “When Mr Dreyer and his colleague tested positive there were lots of anxiety and anger,” she said.

“There are many ‘what if’ questions. What if schools remained closed? This could have been avoided.”

Mr Dreyer taught geography, social sciences and tourism. He also helped the school’s volleyball team.

Lee-Anne Smith, who also teaches at the school, said news of Mr Dreyer’s death had been met with shock because his colleagues had thought he was recovering.

Mr Dreyer’s work was not only limited to teaching at schools; he fought for teachers’ rights as a branch treasurer of the Lydia Simon’s region of the South African Democratic Teacher’s Union(SADTU).

Juwa Dimande, the branch’s regional secretary, said the organisation had lost a leader and someone who cared about others’ wellbeing.

He accused the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) of not caring about Covid-19’s impact on teachers.

“We will continue to fight the department on this matter,” he said.

WCED spokeswoman, Bronagh Hammond, said the department was sad to learn of Mr Dreyer’s death and expressed its condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

The national Department of Education was talking with the unions about the status of schools, she said.

“The WCED has provided input into the discussion and await any changes to the existing regulations.”

As of Monday July 20, the WCED has recorded the deaths of 22 teachers from Covid-19 since the start of lockdown.

Mr Dreyer’s niece, Ellen Dreyer stayed with him in Woodstock and Ms Dreyer said he had been a good role model to her son, Sergio, who now lives in Norway as well as to
his nephew, Ashton, and niece Leauna.

Ms Dreyer said her brother had fought for the rights of the LGBTQ community, done work for the Treatment Action Campaign and stood up against gender violence.

Mr Dreyer was buried from the Light House Church in Bonteheuwel on Friday.

Sharon Dreyer said her blood pressure had been too high to attend her brother’s funeral, so, instead, she had visited Lagoon Beach last Sunday and placed flowers in the sea because he had loved the ocean.