Thirteen schools in the Western Cape are not reopening today, eleven of them due to the coronavirus, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said on Sunday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)
Thirteen schools in the Western Cape are not reopening today, eleven of them due to the coronavirus, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said on Sunday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency(ANA)

13 Cape schools to stay closed due to Covid-19 scares, water issues

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 8, 2020

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Cape Town - Thirteen schools in the Western Cape are not reopening today, eleven of them due to the coronavirus, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said on Sunday. 

Her announcement came during a presentation in which Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga updated the country on the state of readiness of schools to reopen today.

Schäfer said 11 of the 13 were closed due to sanitisation being under-taken after confirmed Covid-19 cases. The others were closed as a result of water-related issues.

“We are working with each of these schools to ensure that they can reopen for pupils safely in the coming week.”

Motshekga hosted a briefing with Education MECs.

She said that about 95% of schools were ably provided with the Covid-19-related essentials.

“The sector, with the assistance of our partners, will strive to deal with the remaining 5% to ensure that the unfettered rights to health, safety and basic education for all South African children are protected.”

She said the golden rule was “there will be no school that will resume, if not ready to do so. For the remaining 5% or so pupils, alternative measures have been developed by different districts such as temporarily using neighbouring schools, using underutilised spaces in boarding schools and putting other pupils in camps.”

She said some of the alternatives needed consultations with parents, and provinces would engage with parents and follow the appropriate protocols to get parental concessions.

The department also published the directions in terms of the Regulations under the Disaster Management Act, 2002, regarding the reopening of schools and measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of the virus in the sector.

The directions, as amended on June 1, cater for deviations to the extent necessary, to be applicable to small schools, special schools, as well as independent and private schools. They also cater for parents to choose to keep their children at home fearing that their children could be infected by the Covid-19 or schools may not be ready to resume schooling.

Motshekga said they have solicited the support and assistance of the SA National Defence, Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and Mvula Trust, provinces and Rand Water to accelerate the provision of water and sanitation in outstanding schools.

This comes a week after Motshekga announced that Grade 7s and 12s were due back in class last Monday.

However, she issued a statement at the 11th-hour postponing the reopening for a week.

In a statement, five teachers’ unions, together with school governing body associations, said they met Motshekga, the deputy minister, MECs, the Basic Education director-general, provincial head of departments and other officials, to receive reports from the ministry about the Covid-19 compliance of schools and readiness to reopen schools.

The unions and SGB Associations cautiously welcomed the progress on compliance.

“With the overall school readiness said to be 94%, the unions and SGB associations consequently supports the call to reopen schools on Monday with the clear understanding that no school may open that is not Covid-19 compliant.”

The department conducted a preliminary survey during lockdown to investigate the number of existing comorbidities and vulnerabilities among teachers and learners in the province.

In her address Motshekga said the challenges related to comorbidities among teachers were being attended to.

“We remain committed to the principle that all schools must be Covid-19 compliant and ready to open together. We will closely monitor the promise to complete the outstanding water deliveries, toilets, and additional classes.”

“We, as a collective of the major stakeholders in education, remain committed to seeing that learning resumes in our schools, but wish to caution against over-zealous ‘recovery’ plans that further traumatise our teachers and education support workers.

“We remind schools that only our matric classes are faced with catching up on work missed. We call on all our members to heed the call to return to school or alternative accommodation except where schools are not ready and thus unsafe,” the organisations said in a joint statement.

@SISONKE_MD

[email protected]

Cape Argus

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