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Rather our children repeat a grade than dig a grave - say Durban parents

Durban parents are calling for the education department to close schools as infections at schools increase. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban parents are calling for the education department to close schools as infections at schools increase. Picture: Shelley Kjonstad/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 13, 2021


Frustrated Durban parents are calling for the Department of Basic Education to terminate the 2021 academic year. This follows growing concerns of Covid-cases at schools which have led to school closures.

Assegai Primary School in Wentworth had to close for three days last week due to recorded Covid-19 cases.

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On Thursday, the School Governing Body (SGB) met with parents where parents expressed their desire to have schools close rather than remain open.

The school’s SGB chairperson Andre de Bruin said: “What was normal before Covid-19 is not the same. Teachers are teaching in fear. One learning content twice a week and the third day is a summary. One day’s prep is two weeks prep for a teacher.

“The greater concern school should be that schools close until the end of the academic year. Rather have a child repeat a grade than dig a grave is our motto.”

De Bruin said the education department was not being transparent. He said apart from the Wentworth region there have been a number of schools that closed due to Covid-19 cases.

He said most public schools followed the rotation system model and it was only affluent schools that were able to go back to daily attendance and that is due to them having space in the infrastructural set-up.

“To meet requirements of Disaster Management Act Response to Covid-19 protocol is impossible. You can’t get the whole school with classes of over 50 learners. Teachers are unable to even walk to the back of the classroom; anymore,” he said.

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De Bruin said even the personal protective equipment (PPE) that schools received were not enough. He said classes were cleaned thoroughly daily and toilets cleaned up to 10 times a day. He said it was only after eight months that his school received PPE that is: four 25-litre sanitisers, two 25-litre surface cleaners and 200 masks.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said there was a concern of an upsurge in Covid-19 infections in KwaZulu-Natal.

Naptosa’s Basil ManueI was in Phoenix, Stanger, Umbumbulu and Chatsworth and all of them reported on numbers of schools and numbers of infections. So it does appear as though the numbers are simply just exploding.

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KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Education Kwazi Mshengu said his department was observing the upsurge of Covid-19 cases in schools affecting both pupils and teachers.

“This is a worrying trend as it continues to disrupt teaching and learning and adds to learning gaps experienced in the past,” he said.

He said the increase in cases was attributed to a number of factors including the non-compliance with Covid-19 protocols at schools and in the homes.

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Meanwhile, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is demanding that Mshengu present a detailed plan - with tangible solutions and deadlines - to prevent the spread of Covid-19 among learners in KZN schools.

“We have learnt with dismay - via reports from the KZN Department of Education - that several schools in the province have been forced to close temporarily, due to positive Covid-19 cases, particularly among learners. This is a clear indication that learners are not safe in schools. Serious questions must be asked as to whether schools were properly sanitised? Was sufficient PPE supplied to each school? The person to answer to these questions is the KZN MEC for Education,” the party said in a statement.

The IFP called for Mshengu’s department to do a thorough investigation into how learners are contracting the infection.