Unions, parties wary of daily school classes amid Covid-19 third wave
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Teacher unions and political parties have warned that while Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has allowed that all primary school learners will start attending school daily from July, this was subject to the impact of the third wave.
They said the threat of the third wave posed a serious risk, but primary school learners would have to go back to school because they are not at high risk against Covid-19.
This was based on science and research done on learners.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and the National Professional Teachers Union of SA (Naptosa) said yesterday the latest directions issued by Motshekga should be welcomed but this is subject to the third wave.
The IFP and DA also weighed in saying the threat of the third wave was imminent but primary school learners have to return to school.
Sadtu general-secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the government will have to monitor the situation.
“Our understanding is that it is going to be monitored how the third wave is progressing before they implement the new directions,” said Maluleke.
He said the directions issued by Motshekga would not be implemented if the third wave hits the country.
He said it was critical that safety measures were taken.
“We are going to have to continue to engage with scientists as we monitor,” he said.
Executive director of Naptosa Basil Manuel said they were consulted on this but they raised a few concerns.
He said the decision to allow the primary school learners to return must be based on science.
“We certainly were consulted.
“We raised a number of concerns and some of the concerns were considered.
“For instance the minister wanted this to start on May 31, but we said it’s impossible for schools to organise at this time,” said Manuel.
He said the minister then changed the date to July 26.
But there were questions on whether there will be enough PPE when thousands of primary school learners return.
“As teacher unions we must be led by scientists.
“The scientists have said primary school learners are hardly affected or infected by corona,” he said.
IFP MP Mthokozisi Nxumalo said the decision to allow all learners to go back to school must be based on science.
“In any way primary school learners are not at high risk in terms of Covid-19.
“Their academic performance has been affected by Covid-19 last year.
“Let us accept that they need to go back to school pending the performance of the third wave,” said Nxumalo.
He said President Cyril Ramaphosa will also give direction on this.
DA MP Bax Nodada said they have held the view that the minister must take advice of the advisory council on this.
He said the decision for all primary school learners to go back must be based on science.
“As the DA we have always said the minister must take advice of the ministerial advisory committee, which is based on science.
“We are on a third wave, there must be science behind it.
“From where we are learners that are in primary school will not pose a risk,” said Nodada.