With teachers and school management teams expected to return to work this week to prepare for the upcoming phased reopening of schools, some provinces said they were still not ready.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) in Limpopo on Sunday said the announcement made by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga last week that educators would go back to school would not be possible as the province was not yet fully prepared.
The union raised a number of concerns including that there were inadequate guidelines on who would be managing the process of conducting screenings for pupils once they returned to class.
Sadtu in Limpopo said thermometers for screening pupils and educators had not yet arrived, raising further concerns about whether school management teams would be able to conduct their work without any challenges if they were to return to school from Monday.
The union said there was no clarity about what would happen to teachers with pre-existing health conditions.
Sadtu’s provincial secretary Tjebane Sowell said the coming week should be used by its structures to gather evidence regarding the state of readiness.
“Until all these systems are put in place, our members should not return to work as directed by the employer. But we allow that the principals can go to school in order for them to receive part of these deliveries,” Sowell said.
Last week, Sadtu said it had conducted its own survey to assess if state schools were ready and found only Gauteng and the Western Cape would be able to reopen.
Motshekga assured the nation that all schools across the country would be ready with all measures in place when grade 7 and matric pupils return to class on 1 June.
RAMAPHOSA ON REOPENING OF SCHOOLS
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday evening moved to assure parents that everything possible was being done to ensure schools were safe for the return of pupils.
The president assured parents that the government’s approach to resuming the academic year was cautioned and guided by medical advice.
Ramaphosa described the reopening of schools as a great challenge for the government, but he said it had to be done.
He said he understood the concerns that parents had: “We are also concerned about the growth and development of our children and that an entire generation of learners should not be permanently disadvantaged by this pandemic,” Ramaphosa said.
“We are, therefore, taking a cautious and phased approach to the re-opening of schools, guided by medical advice and in consultation with all stakeholders,” he added.
The president said the school curriculum would be trimmed to recover the 2020 academic year.
However, the Department of Basic Education said matric pupils would complete and be examined on their entire curriculum, which meant a hard slog ahead for the class of 2020, as they played catch up on the many weeks of teaching they have missed.
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