Forum for service delivery in Mpumalanga says they will be visiting all schools to ensure safety of learners and teachers, as Grade 7 and 12 learners return to school on June 1, 2020.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced last week that schools will open in a phased manner from June.
The Forum’s chairperson Joseph Lengwati says they have urged the government to specifically screen all those who will be going back to school on Monday.
He says so far they are not satisfied with the department’s effort to ensure teachers and learners will be safe when they return to work.
Lengwati says, “We want to ensure that our children will be safe from everything and another problem that we have – we are just appealing to the government to send some people to assist to ensure that they will be checking all the children and the teachers…”
“We as a Forum for service delivery will be walking around the schools in Mpumalanga to ensure that everyone is safe and we will assist,” added Lengwati.
Last week teachers union Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) suggested that schools reopen in September as temperatures will be higher and will provide a better climate to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
The union said it served the Basic Education Department with legal papers, saying it intends to interdict the opening of schools on June the first.
EUSA General Secretary, Siphiwe Mpungose, says if Motshekga persists with the reopening of schools, they will push for her to be charged with attempted genocide as two school principals in the Western Cape are alleged to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We need to move with the strength of the virus. The higher temperatures, this virus does not spread when there are higher temperatures so we are saying September is the ideal period for schools to reopen. There was in the Western Cape, there were two school principals who have tested positive. Our legal team are busy at work with the interdict papers but if she persists when there are children testing positive, when there are teachers testing positive – we will be charging this Minister with attempted genocide,” he says.
Teachers concerned about return to school
South African teachers say while they wish to return to the classrooms to catch up on lost time, they remain apprehensive and fearful for how their safety will be prioritised at school.
Teachers across the country, except for KwaZulu-Natal, are expected to return to work on Monday morning to prepare for the re-opening of schools next month. South Africa will move to lockdown alert level 3 on June 1.
NGOs and teacher unions called for the Department to ensure that learners are not at risk when they return to school.
Equal Education’s Noncedo Madubedube says, “We have concerns or are cautious around the just-in-time delivery proposition that’s been put on the table by the Department of Basic Education. We’re worried that the Department of Basic Education or provincial departments especially the rural provinces may not be ready, in fact, to meet the standard operating procedures or protocols that have been put on the table by the Department of Basic Education.”