Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Unions to meet DBE over schools reopening

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jan 13, 2021

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Cape Town – The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) is calling on the government to give direction soon on whether the 2021 academic year will go ahead as scheduled.

There has been confusion following unconfirmed reports of the reopening dates being pushed to February.

Schools were set to re-open in just two weeks amid a second wave of infections.

Naptosa’s executive director Basil Manuel said they were surprised by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s lack of finality around the opening of schools during his address to the nation on Monday night .

“As schools and other educational institutions prepare to begin the new academic year, there is an understandable concern about whether this is advisable in the midst of the second wave of infections,” said Ramaphosa.

He said the National Coronavirus Command Council was dealing with the issue and would provide guidance on this matter “in the coming days”.

Manuel said as a collective of unions, they had now asked for an urgent meeting with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to discuss the way ahead.

“I've noted the concerns of many people. This is because more people have died in teaching than in any other profession. We have also listened to Professor Abdul Karim giving his opinion that it may be wise to not open schools now, if, in fact, we are close to the peak.

“So we are considering all of those things and listening to academics. The Department needs to ensure schools are ready for the start of the academic year with stringent measures in place to protect learners,” said Manuel.

He said mistakes made last year could not be repeated this year.

DBE’s Director-General Mathanzima Mweli said on Monday: “Our risk-adjusted differentiated strategy indicated that schools wouldn’t be allowed to operate at alert level 5. At alert level 4, you allow for exit grades, and at alert level 3 you allow for most of the grades.”

Western Cape Education Department (WCED) spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said: “Our schools are well versed in dealing with the health and safety measures that are in place. Any changes will be issued through amended directions by DBE.

“All other necessary preparations for the opening of schools, textbooks, stationary and equipment was procured last year in preparation for the 2021 school year.”

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