The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and Cosatu Western Cape have promised to hold Debbie Schäfer, the Education MEC, and her provincial head of education personally accountable for any direct disregard for Covid-19 health and safety regulations at schools.
The unions say they will not hesitate to file criminal charges against the MEC, her department head and the Western Cape government if staff or children are infected by the coronavirus.
This comes after the National Education Department announced on Sunday that the reopening of schools for gr. 7- and gr. 12 pupils with another week are postponed until June 8 because schools in large parts of the country are not ready yet.
However, the Western Cape continued to open its schools on June 1.
The unions say they reject the idea of a “Republic of the Western Cape” after schools in the province reopened on Monday while the rest of the country’s pupils will only return to school desks next week.
“We support parents who have made the decision, in the interest of their children’s safety, not to send their children to school on June 1, as well as our members who are strong and determined about their health and safety in schools,” said Jonadon Rustin, Sadtu’s provincial secretary.
The union also demands that the standard operating procedures of the Department of Basic Education be established in all schools and that all teachers and staff must be appropriately oriented in managing the return of pupils to schools.
“We demand that the workplaces be kept safe for all staff and pupils and that healthy distances are maintained at all times. Schools must also be cleared and protocols complied with when reporting a positive case of Covid-19, ”says Rustin.
The union also requires Schäfer to publish her independent verification of school readiness in the province for all to see.
Schäfer said earlier that she and her department had acted in accordance with the instructions of the national government and that she would stand by her decision to reopen schools.
“It is not at all true that our minister challenges or ignores Angie Motshekga’s instructions. To date, we are still working with her to ensure that our schools are ready to open. ”
Schäfer says she is confused as to why the DA is being targeted in the Western Cape for complying with the minister’s requests and measures.