By: Collen T Ndobo
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) on Tuesday, 14 July 2020, held a special meeting to come up with an urgent response to the spikes in COVID-19 cases in South African schools. The meeting was followed by a briefing responding to the alarming increases of infections both in schools and communities.
The union said the rate of community transmissions are impacting schools and the frontline workers who are at the coalface of the pandemic have been infected and affected.
“The special National Executive Committee (NEC) of the South African Democratic Teachers Union has resolved that the schools should close until after the peak.”
“We raised concerns about the readiness of the provincial departments with regards to the availability of health and safety essentials that had to be put in place before the opening of institutions,” the union said
The NEC took a decision to call on the Department of Basic Education to suspend all schooling activities with immediate effect until the peak of the pandemic has rescinded.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance, has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa with submissions in support of schools remaining open during the risk-adjusted COVID-29 lockdown, in the midst of growing opposition.
“Our view is that only schools without the necessary COVID-19 protocols in place, or schools in areas where the health system is failing, should remain closed until they have all the necessary required equipment, resources and support from the health system to ensure they open safely.”
“Those who have argued for schools to close may have noble intentions, but they do not understand the consequences closures will have on learners and communities as a whole,” said the DA
The official opposition said it based its submission to the President the five different groups which have an interest in whether schools are open or closed.
The groups includes Learners (Leading educational and scientific research have demonstrated that children‘s vulnerability to COVID-19 is extremely low – lower than their vulnerability to influenza), Teachers (Teachers are no different from thousands of other employees who have gone back to work during the pandemic), Parents (All parents have an interest in their children being educated, in their education continuing seamlessly, and in them advancing from Grade to Grade without hindrance), Employers ( Employers have an overall interest in the education of the population) and Society as a whole (South African society as a whole has an interest in keeping schools open).
The party has urged the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga and President Ramaphosa to remain resolute on the matter of schools, in not to give in to the whims of political pressures.