Unions Propose Closing Schools Until End Of Winter

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Naptosa and other education unions met with Minister Motshekga over the weekend to discuss the possible closure of schools. The organisation has now released details of how it wants the government to handle the closure schools.

Naptosa and other unions want schools to close because they feel that the government is not able to provide learners and teachers with enough protective gear and psycho-social support. 

"The education system is under severe pressure with very low attendance since the return to school of the first cohort of learners. The department has not been able to adequately protect teachers, education support personnel and learners by providing them with the necessary protective materials at all schools."

Naptosa highlighted inconsistencies with the government's decision to reopen schools, as it stated that the initial research used to promote the reopening of schools was now being disproved. 

"When the debate about reopening of schools began, it was guided by the science that the children were not susceptible to infections and that even if infected, were not infectious, and although they were not likely to infect other children they could infect those with vulnerabilities, especially the elderly, teachers and education workers."

"The South African situation has disproved this science with many learners having been infected and some even losing their lives. Evolving science also now supports the possibility that there could be an airborne spread of the virus."

The union believes that the advice of the World Health Organisation should be followed and schools should be closed until the end of the peak of the pandemic. 

Naptosa is also unhappy with the disruptions caused by the opening and closing of schools, and it feels that the system is not able to cater to the wellbeing of staff. 

Eastern Cape schools are also a cause for concern, as some schools have not reopened because they are in need of water and basic sanitation.

It is for these reasons that the unions request the following:

  • Schools should be closed with immediate effect to allow the peak and winter to pass. The system should use this time to attend to all outstanding issues, including, but not limited to, the provision of water, the building of toilets and additional classes and providing the required number of teachers.
  • Schools should reopen at the end of August 2020 unless the situation dictates otherwise.
  • The education departments should provide teachers with the necessary tools to work from home and prepare work for the reopening of schools and return of learners.
  • Grade 12s should be prioritised and different modes to assist them while they are at home should be investigated. Grade 12s should return on Monday, 17 August 2020.
  • The DBE and stakeholders should discuss the curriculum post this calendar year, focusing on reading for the remaining months of 2020.
  • The Department of Higher Education and Training should be engaged to consider late registration for First Years in 2021.
  • All stakeholders should focus on advocacy campaigns, educating the nation about this invisible enemy but also urging them to follow all precautionary measures, including staying at home.

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