LIVE: Angie Motshekga addresses the country ahead of schools reopening on Monday
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Cape Town - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to update the country on the state of readiness to reopen schools.
According to the department, Motshekga together with Education MECs will host a media briefing on Sunday afternoon at 4pm.
This comes a week after Motshekga announced that Grade 7s and 12s were due back in class last Monday. But issued a statement at the 11th-hour postponing the reopening to a week later.
School management teams, teachers and non-teaching staff returned to school to prepare for the arrival of pupils on Monday.
However, the Western Cape Education Department continued with the reopening of the pupils saying that June 1, was the gazetted date for the school reopening. That meanwhile teacher and trade unions were fighting the department over the decision.
In a statement on Sunday, five teacher unions - SADTU, NAPTOSA, SAOU, NATU, PEU together with the School Governing Body Associations (FEDSAS, NASGB, GBF, SANASE) said they met with Motshekga, the Deputy Minister, provincial MECs, the Basic Education director general, the provincial HODs and various other officials, to receive reports from the Ministry about the Covid-19 compliance of schools and readiness to re-open 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 re-open schools on Monday with the clear understanding that no school may open that is not Covid-19 compliant.”
They said it should be stated that three out of the nine provinces were still experiencing challenges with regard to the delivery of water tanks which would make the resumption of learning and teaching impossible unless alternative measures are taken to ensure that all learners receive education.
The department conducted a preliminary survey during lockdown to investigate and manage the number of existing comorbidities and vulnerabilities in terms of age among both teachers and pupils in the province.
Lorraine Botha, the DA's spokesperson on education in the Western Cape, said: “Although a significant number of teachers indicated their vulnerabilities to Covid-19, the WCED took steps to request that teachers who applied for concession should present a plan to continue working from home.”
Botha said that would ensure that the education sector remained operational in the province while limiting risks of exposure of vulnerable teachers to the virus.
She said she would write to the Provincial Education MEC regarding the matter as to understand how the contingency plans would unfold on the ground, and the steps affected teachers must take to receive a concession.
According to the WCED, all teacher concession applications submitted must be accompanied by medical reports and would be evaluated accordingly in support of adopting proper contingency plans.
Botha said with regards to vulnerabilities among pupil related to the coronavirus, parents also have the option of keeping learners at home after their separate application process has been approved.
“Resources to continue daily work and assessment will be collected and delivered to schools. A great deal of online resources is also available through the WCED’s online portal.”
She said it is important to keep the educational sector operational, safe, and flexible in adjusting to the new-normal.