South African schools likely to stay closed – Report

South Africa’s schools will not open tomorrow as planned, according to a report in the Sunday Times.

The report comes after news this week that schools in some provinces were still waiting for personal protective equipment (PPEs) to be delivered.

Earlier this week, South African Teachers’ Union (SAOU) operational director Johan Kruger told MyBroadband that many schools remain unprepared for the return of Grade 7 and 12 learners on 1 June.

At the time, Kruger said the majority of schools in provinces including Limpopo, North West, Free State, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal have not been disinfected, and many were still waiting for PPEs to be delivered.

Kruger provided the example of the North West, where schools in the province said they did not get any assistance from the provincial department of education to prepare for the reopening.

“They sanitized their own schools and procured their own PPEs. The schools that did receive PPEs said they were inadequate,” said Kruger at the time.

Additionally, a report by IOL stated that 55% of school principals said they are not ready to resume teaching on 1 June. The findings were part of a joint survey conducted by South Africa’s teacher unions.

The latest report now states that Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga’s plan to open schools for Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners tomorrow “was stopped in its tracks” – and “a return to class is unlikely” – during a meeting last night.

It added that the decision is based on opposition from teacher unions and school governing bodies, which stated that schools were not yet ready to open. They motivated to keep schools closed during discussions between unions, MECs, governing body associations, and Motshekga.

Grade R pupils attending private schools will be allowed to attend school from tomorrow, however, as the report stated they have received a special dispensation.

Challenges with opening

When South Africa’s schools do open, there will be many challenges to overcome.

This includes the screening of learners and teachers, and ensuring COVID-19 does not spread among them.

To achieve this, the Department of Basic Education has sent a document to schools outlining the standard operating procedure during the COVID-19 lockdown.

In the document, the government provides an example screening questionnaire from the Department of Health which shows the type of questions that may be asked of learners.

The document also contains rules for all learners, educators, support staff, officials, parents and communities.

  • Avoid gatherings.
  • Maintain a social distance of at least 1.5-2 metres to others, where possible.
  • Every learner, staff member and visitor must wear a cloth mask at all times.
  • Avoid direct contact with others e.g. shaking hands or hugging.
  • Frequently wash hands with water and soap.
  • Avoid touching the face (i.e. eyes, nose, mouth) with unwashed hands.
  • Eradicate all forms of stigma and discrimination as a result of COVID-19.

All visitors, parents, and vendors are not allowed to enter school premises unless the nature of their visit is essential.

Now read: South Africa’s free fibre speed upgrades – When they will end

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South African schools likely to stay closed – Report