Covid-19: Parents must wait as government briefing on schooling postponed
Parents, pupils, teachers and education stakeholders will have to wait a little longer to hear when schooling will resume.
Monday's much-anticipated address by basic education minister Angie Motshekga has been postponed to later this week.
Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the postponement “was necessitated by the need to align with other interventions that are to be taken by the National Command Council later this week”.
The briefing was to have been addressed by Motshekga and her counterpart from higher education Blade Nzimande.
“Ministers were meant to give an update on their areas of work in relation to the Covid-19 lockdown,” Mhlanga said.
In anticipation of the reopening of schools, the South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) said in a statement on Friday that “the first priority is the safety of all our learning institutions because we cannot afford to lose lives. Corpses can neither be taught nor teach.”
The union said it was concerned about the safety of teachers, lecturers, education support personnel, pupils and students.
“Above all, we are concerned about the readiness of the provincial departments with regard to the availability of health and safety essentials that have to be put in place in the learning institutions at least two weeks before any activity can take place.”
Sadtu said the union had a right to be concerned as “alert 4 level requires honesty, transparency and accuracy regarding readiness with precautionary measures”.
The union urged the departments to comply with several minimum requirements for the phasing-in or staggered approach to the reopening of learning institutions. These included:
• Institutions must be fumigated and disinfected
• The provision of proper sanitation, which means the delivery of water tankers to all institutions that don't have running water
• The provision of temperature scanners for the daily screening of everyone
• The departments should ensure that learning institutions have enough soap, disinfectants and sanitisers and that hygiene is part of the curriculum
• The departments hire more staff to clean and sanitise classrooms, workshops and offices as frequently as possible
• The provision of desk screens to prevent pupils touching each other
• The provision of high quality masks to all, making it mandatory that everyone wears them all the time, inside and outside classrooms and workshops
• Social distancing of 1.2m to 1.5m inside classrooms and workshops should not be compromised
• The sharing of readers and textbooks be prohibited as it may pose a health risk
• The availability of psychosocial services to help learning institutions build resilience, to defeat the fear brought on by the virus; and
• The transportation of pupils and students must comply with social distancing regulations and modes of transport should be sanitised.
Sadtu said it hoped that the ministers would consider all the minimum requirements they had put on the table.
“We must not make a mistake, because this virus is brutal, and we should not undermine its viciousness and brutality. Only if we unite and stop competing, can we defeat this virus.”