Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga. Picture: GCIS

Parents with Covid-19 anxieties can keep children away - Motshekga

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published May 19, 2020

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Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says parents who are anxious about sending their children back to school would not be forced to do so.

Motshekga said resuming the schooling year from June was important for learners and saving the academic year. 

When asked about how the department would deal with children with underlying health issues, she said the department would deal with those cases on a case by case basis. 

She said schooling had to resume and that the entire schooling system could not be held back based on "anxious parents". Parents who choose to keep their children at home would have to re-apply for the schools their children attended to repeat the grade, she said.

"We have to deal with children with underlying issues on a case by case basis. Every child is important. Those without asthma can not be held back by a child who has asthma. If you are still anxious and doubtful it is understandable. 

"But that cannot determine the future of every child. If you want to leave your child at home you will need to re-apply. We won't close schools because of parents who are anxious and kids who are not well. We have to deal with issues on a case by case basis," the minister said.  

She said that parents have the option of homeschooling their children and could apply to do so.

Motshekga had earlier announced that schools will be re-opened on June 1. The first group of learners who will return will be Grades 12 and 7.

The minister said teachers will be expected back at work on May 25. She said processes were underway to ensure that schools had water and sanitation. She assured parents that children would be screened upon entering schools. 

Motshekga said each province had come up with their own details on how screening would be implemented. In Gauteng, she said the province would use volunteers to do the screening at the public schools.

Motshekga and her department said the decision to re-open schools was not easy and that they relied on scientific research and practises followed in other countries.

Mathanzima Mweli, the department's director-general said: "We follow what international bodies are telling us about reopening schools. We can only draw lessons from countries that have been through this. We have a team of researchers in the department of education who are picking up on international trends. The emerging research is large, varied and sometimes confusing".

"We follow the best in the country who are advising the government and international bodies. We always maintain that we are in a public health crisis which has caused an education crisis," Mweli said. 

Motshekga said every child would be provided with two masks which can be washed and re-used. 

Political Bureau

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