Stakeholders against all pupils returning to school
DURBAN - THE Durban Upper South School Governing Bodies (SGB) forum is calling for the rotational school system to continue, to avoid the risk of a possible third wave of Covid-19.
The forum, which represents a number of SGBs, is calling on parents to protect their children’s lives by not allowing the return of all primary school pupils at the same time, should the delegation expected to deliberate on the issue this week decide this should be the case.
The Council of Education Ministers will hold a two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday to deliberate on key issues affecting education and the impact of the pandemic.
The department is currently investigating the possibility of returning all pupils at primary school level due to the learning losses being suffered.
The Wentworth SGB Forum spokesperson, Clint Leverton, said judging by the outbreak of the Covid-19 second wave in India and the threat of a third wave in this country, returning all pupils to school would be disastrous.
“As it is, the numbers are low, and that should be an indication that we have been doing something right. Why change something that’s not broken? By all means open schools full-time when the virus dies down but not now.
“My advice to parents is that parents are responsible for their children and they have the responsibility to do what is right. Sending their kids back all at the same time to be crowded in the classrooms is dangerous. Your child is your child, make a decision to protect your child," said Leverton.
He added that parents should bear in mind that unlike private schools, public schools were small, with large numbers of pupils in a classroom.
“Our children are squashed in. There are classes of 40 to 50 pupils per class. Private schools have classes of less than 20 and they can afford to have all pupils return at the same time because they have big classroom spaces and the resources to help adhere to Covid-19 regulations,” said Leverton.
Ebrahim Houston, chairperson of the Merewent SGB Forum, said they would not accept a decision of all primary school pupils returning.
“Should the department decide this, it will result in our families and communities being put at risk. The (infection) numbers continue to rise.
“Considering fears of a third wave in the next few weeks, we are saying that the government should relook at this issue. We understand that education is important, but our youth is our future. The department wants to jump the gun and force things to go back to normal, when the worst third wave may be on its way,” said Houston.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary, Nomarashiya Caluza, said there should be discussions on issues of floor space availability, considering that schools would still have to adhere to Covid-19 regulations.
“The reason for the rotational system was that some schools had issues of floor space, as they could not accommodate all pupils and still provide social distancing. We are saying as long as the issue is addressed, social distancing is achieved and all regulations are respected, then we will be happy,” said Caluza.