Don't report to school on Monday, education departments tell principals
Five provincial education departments have asked principals and other members of school management teams (SMTs) not to report for duty on Monday, while the remaining four provinces are expected to follow suit.
The Western Cape, North West and KwaZulu-Natal informed SMTs on Friday afternoon to remain at home, while the Eastern Cape and Northern Cape sent out circulars on Thursday.
SMTs were scheduled to return to work on Monday, while teachers were expected back on May 18.
The North West education department's head of department, Stepinah Semaswe, informed officials and teachers that the department “has not met the set preconditions to contain the transmission of Covid-19 in schools due to circumstances beyond our control”.
She advised SMTs not to report for duty until further notice.
Her Western Cape counterpart Brian Schreuder asked SMTs to delay their return until Wednesday “or until I am able to give more clarity”.
Schreuder said that they were made aware that other provinces were not in a position to have teachers return on Monday.
“We have therefore been considering the implications of it, if [it is] only the Western Cape that is ready to return on Monday.”
He said that principals must be on standby to receive or arrange receipt of the procured materials when contacted.
The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA’s Gauteng office has also advised its members not to return to work until they receive official notification from the Gauteng education department’s head of department, Edward Mosuwe.
Earlier on Friday afternoon, the KwaZulu-Natal education department’s head of department, Vusi Nzama, instructed officials based at district and circuit offices as well as principals and teachers not to return to work “until further notice”.
He said that due to the unforeseen circumstances, “deep cleaning and other health-related issues have not yet been confirmed at all institutions”.
On Thursday it emerged that the National Treasury had redirected the Eastern Cape education department's order for personal protective equipment (PPE) to the provincial health department.
Bun Hopley, the provincial manager for the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools in the Eastern Cape, confirmed that during an urgent Zoom meeting with Eastern Cape education head of department Themba Kojana on Thursday afternoon they were informed that the Treasury had withdrawn the department’s instruction note relating to the delivery of PPEs.
Kojana had indicated during the meeting that Treasury “has prioritised the health sector” in the province.
On Friday night, the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) said it would not allow any of its members to report for duty on Monday because the department of basic education “has failed to meet the minimum requirements to ensure safety as per Covid-19 alert level 4".
“The personal protective equipment (PPEs) has not been procured for office-based personnel, educators and education support personnel. The disinfecting of schools and offices has not even reached 25%. It is unlawful to expect workers to report for duty when their safety is not guaranteed.”
Sadtu's secretariat said that PPEs must be provided by the employer in workplaces and that screening must take place on a daily basis and in places where workers and pupils were denied water and sanitation.