Eastern Cape schools 'still not compliant' with Covid-19 regulations

17 August 2020 - 10:16 By Gugu Phandle
'As a union, we are highly suspicious that Eastern Cape schools are not ready to open next Monday,' says Naptosa's Loyiso Mbinda.
'As a union, we are highly suspicious that Eastern Cape schools are not ready to open next Monday,' says Naptosa's Loyiso Mbinda.  
Image: 123RF/ktsdesign

With a week to go before schools reopen, a number of Eastern Cape schools are still not compliant with Covid-19 standard operating procedures.  

These were the findings of a survey undertaken by the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa). 

The survey, the latest of five carried out by the union since May, was undertaken at national level and includes a provincial breakdown. The survey received 7,162 responses from school principals across the country. Of those responses 18%, or 1,289, were from the Eastern Cape.

Naptosa Eastern Cape CEO Loyiso Mbinda said the survey was distributed to more than 5,000 public schools in the province.

Though schools had received personal protective equipment (PPE), water, water tanks and mobile toilets, he said maintenance of these essentials was still unclear.

He said the union had not received clear plans or updates from the department.

“As a union, we are highly suspicious that Eastern Cape schools are not ready to open next Monday,” Mbinda said. “Even if we were to meet the department for the scheduled Saturday meetings, we don’t think anything would change.”

Education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said the department had empowered school governing bodies (SGBs) and school management teams to use their budgets to top up requirements for PPE and water tanks.

“Schools have been operational for some time since other grades were returned,” Pulumani said. He said schools had undertaken their own due diligence to ensure their readiness to accept the rest of the grades.

“They have done this with the full support of the circuit and district management teams,” Pulumani said.

Of the schools that responded to the survey in the province, 54% said they would have an adequate water supply by next week.

About 24% said they were still waiting for water tanks, while 85% of schools said they would have sufficient masks by Monday.

Some 67% said they would have sufficient cleaning equipment, and 77% said there would be enough sanitiser for pupils.

“There was a call for evaluation on whether the amount of alcohol in sanitisers was enough,” Mbinda said. “Despite that, the department hasn’t furnished us with that information.” 

Last month a video on social media revealed how pupils at a school in the Alfred Nzo district were allegedly using ineffective hand sanitiser to fight Covid-19, the Dispatch reported.

According to the video, in which a teacher conducts an experiment on the effectiveness of the sanitiser, the pupils were using a water-based sanitiser which was inadequate in the fight against the coronavirus.

Mbinda said: “On top of that, there has been no discussion about the upkeep of mobile toilets and on sustaining toilets being erected.

“There is a school in Cala which said it would rather use pit latrines built by the community than the mobile toilets provided by the department.”

The Naptosa survey showed low pupil and teacher attendance at Eastern Cape schools and widespread loss of school days.

Mbinda said: “Matric attendance in the province hasn’t exceeded 70%. Grade 7 attendance lies between 51% and 59%." 

According to the survey, 68% of the schools had recorded five or more days lost, while 49% of the respondents had closed because of the coronavirus.

According to the survey, in June only 10% of schools had closed, but by August 11, 41% had closed because of the pandemic.

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