Union Against All Learners Returning To School Full-Time Ruling

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With the announcement coming that all learners will be going back to schools in full capacity, full-time, Unions and organisations have now reacted to this news. Reactions to this ruling seem to be split as concerns continue for various reasons.


There seems to be differing opinions when it comes to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) announcement that schools will return to full-capacity every day from third term.

Primary schools will be returning to a full capacity daily attendance on 26 July, just in time for the third term to commence. Even though unions and other organisations support this move, concerns of the risk of transmission and infections are now coming up.

The country is now experiencing it's third wave of Covid-19 infections with numbers increasing every day.

SA Paediatrics Association's (Sapa) President, Prof. Mignon Mcculloch, said:

I think really nothing has changed. We know that this is mainly a disease of adults and specifically, people with comorbidities. From a children's point of view, there's been some concern that possibly the older teenagers may be a problem. We know that children are not affected severely in any way. If you have children that have it, it's going to be a very mild infection and they are less contagious than adults would be.

Sapa supports the government's decision to get learners back at schools on a daily basis, provided they wear masks, practice social distancing and sanatise.

"Our concern is that children are really losing out. This is the second year now that we're not getting them back to school properly and we know that schooling is not just about learning. It's about safety."

There are also fears that with children working with a rotational attendance timetable, they are missing out on school feeding schemes and going hungry.

Online learning is really not a reality in most of the children in South Africa. We just think that we've lost a year of education, if we lose a second year this is going to last a very long time.

Andre de Bruyn, the Educators' Union of South Africa (EUSA) National Media Executive, has the opposite opinion and said:

We are of the opinion that lives should matter. More than 400 children died from this disease ... I am totally in disagreement with the previous speaker.

Mcculloch responded to this by saying that children who has passed due to Covid-19 often had long-term chronic illnesses.

EUSA has seen reports of rising positive cases found at schools and creches.

"We cannot allow our teachers to be sitting ducks and to be kicked off by Covid-19," de Bruyn said.

The Union is calling for teachers to be vaccinated. Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, has said that teachers should be vaccinated before 26 July but with the slow vaccine rollout, this does not seem realistic.

How are we going to do jabbing for teachers before the 26th of July? These outbreaks happen at schools who have participated in school sports, who have been doing full capacity at their schools. Do we not learn?

He also calls the way some schools have different rules into question. Normally, the more privileged and private schools have full-capacities of learners in classes every day.



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