Cape Town - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that she would be consulting all stakeholders in the basic education sector regarding the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic's impact on education.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Motshekga said meetings would be concluded by Friday, and said she would only be able to give the public some certainty about the reopening of schools after consulting with the Cabinet at the weekend.
The Council of Education Ministers said on Tuesday that it would be taking legal action against anyone who tried to disrupt schooling. That was after the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) demanded all schools to be shut until the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic was over.
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the rate of community transmissions was impacting on schooling.
“The front-line workers who are at the coalface of the pandemic have been infected and affected.”
Maluleke said they remembered all the workers, children and families whose members had succumbed to the virus.
“We grieve with all our members and every family in our country. We are in a crisis and every life matters.”
He said when Motshekga announced that schools would be opened under level 4, Sadtu, together with other teacher unions, called on her to ensure the safety of teachers, lecturers, education support personnel, pupils and students “because we could not afford to lose lives. Above all, we raised concerns about the readiness of the provincial departments with regards to the availability of health and safety essentials that had to be put in place before the opening of institutions.”
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union general secretary Zola Saphetha said the union supported Sadtu.
“The national union holds a strong view that schools should reopen in September because temperatures would have risen. By that time of the year infections would decrease as the virus is said to be less of a threat in warm conditions,” Saphetha said.
Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa acting general secretary Cassim Lekhoathi said the decision to reopen schools, at the time when healthcare facilities were feeling the strain and at the time when the country is experiencing the rise in infections, will just bring more problems to overworked healthcare workers.
Public Servants Association spokesperson Reuben Maleka said the association which represents thousands of educators and administrative staff in schools across the country, “still maintains that schools should be closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.”
He said the association has recently addressed a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, urging him to intervene and close schools with immediate effect.