A total of eight education unions and organizations representing school governing bodies say in a joint statement schools are not ready to reopen.
The organizations met Thursday to discuss schools’ readiness to reopen Monday.
They unanimously concluded that schools are not ready to reopen amid the Covid 19 pandemic.
“The minister must withdraw her announcement in this regard and postpone any further announcement to allow the system to prepare for a general reopening. If not, we’re going to have a head reopening on hand. “
The statement was signed by Sadou, Naptosa, Natu, the PEU, SAOU, Fedsas, NASGB and GBF.
Gr. 7- and Gr.12 pupils nationwide are expected to be back on the school desks on Monday. However, the Northern Cape has already indicated that learners in this province will only report a week later.
The organizations also asked all schools not to reopen on Monday, even though they received all necessary supplies for teachers and learners. They say they will pay close attention to the Western Cape’s response to this plea to see if the province will show solidarity with the plight of other provinces and sympathy with the thousands of learners and teachers nationwide. Many schools, especially in the Western Cape and Gauteng, have indicated over the past week that they are ready to welcome learners back on Monday.
“Although we recognize that the right to basic education and the need for children to return to school are very important rights and considerations, these considerations cannot trump the best-interest principle in the Constitution. We do not believe it is in the best interests of children to return to school while there is still uncertainty about their safety and health, ”the organizations say.
The organizations say most provincial departments were still unable to provide personal protective equipment for teachers or schools’ management teams, despite previous assurances that it was “in warehouses in the provinces”.
They say many schools have not yet been cleaned and disinfected. Today is the last working day to do so before schools reopen Monday. If the equipment has not yet been delivered, the chances are slim that it will be there on time.
“Is it why the minister said media reports that schools that do not have equipment will not reopen? Together, we want to reject the gradual reopening of schools. No school should be left behind, especially not because of incompetence and punctuality.
“Given historical injustices, it is obvious which schools will be left behind if a phased approach to reopening schools is followed. We can’t allow it, no matter what the justification for it. “
No adapted curriculum has been announced yet, and the organizations say teachers cannot be expected to work in the dark, or learners to learn inappropriate content.
The organizations are now meeting with the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, on Saturday to discuss their concerns with her. “We cannot support a piecemeal approach to reopening schools or leaving behind the most disadvantaged schools in our country.”
On Thursday, Solidarity also presented a comprehensive code of good practice, aimed at the healthy and responsible return to schools, to numerous principals and school governing bodies. It provides guidelines to schools on how to manage the Covid-19 risk, as well as how to comply with all relevant legislation and regulations.
The code should help parents not have to choose between health and schools, but for healthy schools. Dr. Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s chief executive, says the organization understands parents’ insecurities and wants to help give parents more peace of mind.
“Our children are precious to us. Our teachers are precious to us. We want to support our teachers so that they can work well while our children can learn well, ”Hermann says.
“In the midst of the pandemic, it is important that we manage the return of learners responsibly and that Solidarity’s code of good practice has been drafted in order to do this in a practical way.”
Hermann says the organization wants to actively help find solutions.
“It does not help to make demands. We come up with concrete solutions. Covid-19 is going to be with us for a very long time and we need to develop methods to live with the virus. ”
Hermann says the guidelines are comprehensive and will be a great help to schools in implementing measures that can responsibly manage the safety of learners and teachers.