Wary parents have mixed feelings about schools reopening
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Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that schools are set to reopen on June 1 was met with mixed reactions from wary parents who said they were not convinced that the government would ensure their children’s safety.
Nono Likhoeli said rushing her 8-year-old daughter back to school while Covid-19 infections are increasing daily would be irresponsible.
“The virus supposedly thrives in winter, so why reopen schools at the beginning of one of the coldest months of the year?” she asked.
“I also understand that we’ve never dealt with anything of this magnitude, so the schools can’t possibly be prepared either.”
While admitting to being frustrated with home-schooling her daughter, who is in Grade 2, Likhoeli said she’d rather continue with it than send her back to school next month.
“I’d need to know how well prepared her school is and that will require a meeting with the principal, teachers and other parents to find out what measures the school has put in place.
“There are 36 learners in a class. I’m worried about how social distancing will be applied to 36 8-year-olds.”
Fathers Doctor Khumalo and Sinaye Mdaka said their children would not be going back to school this year while the country battled the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It’s one of those tough decisions, but I guess she will have to lose this academic year because I won’t sacrifice my child for the sake of a government’s pilot project,” said Khumalo, while Mdaka suggested that classrooms should rather be converted into quarantine wards and only be reopened for schooling next year.
“I will not take the gamble. At my daughter’s age, there won’t be any social distancing among her peers and I believe that they will also share food and masks, leading to infections spreading fast among them. Children can make up for a missed grade,” added Mdaka.
However, some parents said they were ready for their children to return to school and continue with this year’s curriculum.
Themba Gasela, a father of two from Joburg, was confident that his children, who are in Grade 7 and Grade 5, have nothing to fear.
“My belief is that this virus has been blown way out of proportion.
“Sure, there are many fatalities across the world with the number sitting at over 300 000, but when
you consider that over 200 000 people die daily from various causes, then you get a sense of why I say it’s exaggerated.”
Also, he said data was available to show that Covid-19 fatalities were largely among the elderly and sickly.
“It is because of these reasons that I am okay with sending my children back to school.
“The worldwide media focus on this virus is what causes the fear, but in truth less than 5% of infections end up in death.”
Jane Peterson, a mother of twins from Joburg North, believes her sons, who are in Grade 10, will return to school.
“I have no intentions of home-schooling the twins and, although the school has offered some support, I really think they need to return to school.
“Proper measures have been put in place and I believe every parent has done their best to educate their little ones. Life has to go back to normal some day,” she said.
Phyllis Ramafoko’s main worry is whether the backlog will be covered with the same professionalism and care.
“I don’t mind their return. I just need to make sure she has her sanitisers and mask at all times when she leaves home and if each class will have its own protective equipment, like how it’s done in shops.
“I am confident that classes can resume and be back to normal,” said the mother of a Grade 11 pupil.