Teacher unions said they have been left with more questions than answers after an announcement on the reopening of schools by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.
In an address last week, Motshekga announced a phasing in of classes, with schools reopening on June 1 for Grade 12 and Grade 7 pupils.
Teachers are expected back on May 18, and management teams on May 11.
In a joint statement, five major teacher unions, including the SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) and the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) said they would request Motshekga to regulate or reduce her presentation into a circular with all the details to assist the circuit, districts, and head offices.
Naptosa president Basil Manuel said while they noted the dates, they were waiting for regulations to be published in the coming days that would clear-up unanswered questions.
“There are many questions, like what about those that are over 60, those with co-morbidities? What is the process around that? We need the regulations on that,” Manuel said.
Manuel said office workers across the country were expected back at work today to ensure things were ready. “We have called on the minister for urgent meetings to address these,” he said.
The unions said health experts and curriculum specialists advised Motshekga, and the School Management Teams (SMTs) are required to report to schools.
“The work of the SMTs is to plan the timetables and how to receive the teachers and support staff.
“It is paramount that their health and safety be guaranteed.
“It is not the duty of the SMTs to supervise infrastructure or fixing of schools. It’s not the duty of the SMTs to install sanitizers, nor to deep-cleanse the schools.
“That is the work of Public Works or the infrastructure unit of the department. The SMTs will have to tick the list of the completed work and determine if the teachers and support personnel can return to work.
“We, therefore, call upon the district or circuit offices not to require principals to come to circuits before May 11. The principals will receive the masks on May 11 after they have been screened by the health officials at the schools as stated by the plan.
“They must also find all sanitizers installed. The entire SMTs might only be called on May 12, when all the essentials were ticked to be 100% delivered.
“The SMTs must be screened daily by the health officials and have their social distancing determined and then plan for the return of the teachers.”
Motshekga’s spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, said they had noted the unions’ joint statement and would provide an update on developments in the coming days.