WATCH: Cape teachers, principals 'terrified' to return to school

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published May 25, 2020

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Cape Town - Teachers and principals in the Western Cape are concerned about how to reopen schools safely.

They are expected to return to school today.

A teacher from Khayelitsha, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “We are all terrified to go back to school.”

The teacher has chronic asthma and a suppressed immune system.

“My anxiety has been so bad that I have needed to consult a psychologist six times during lockdown.

"The psychologist was very concerned about my ability to cope when I return to school.

"Many teachers have the same anxiety,” she said.

The teacher said the manner in which the Basic Education Department and the provincial department had managed the situation had made it clear to school communities (teachers, non-teaching staff, parents and learners) that “our humanity has gone unrecognised. We have been handled like objects, tools of the trade, items on the school inventory, commodities”.

She said the treatment by the employers had left her soul destroyed. “I no longer want to teach any more. I will be looking for another job when the pandemic is over.”

Chief executive of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools (Fedsas) Paul Colditz said some schools were ready. He said that although the state of readiness of other provinces was uncertain, Fedsas believed there was still time for them to get things in order. Progressive Principals Association (PPA) spokesperson Faiek Abrahams said its principals would go to school today. He said the PPA did not get much feedback from teachers, but he said most of them were concerned about the continued high number of infections in the province.

Provincial Education Department head Brian Schreuder, in letters to principals on Saturday, thanked them and school management teams for the work done to prepare schools, and the readiness of teachers to return today.

Schreuder said that in the week ahead the focus would be on readying schools for the return of Grades 12 and 7 pupils on June 1.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said the debate regarding the reopening of schools had already polarised society.

“Teacher unions and associations are already opposed to the directive. Parents are also reluctant to release their children into schools.”

Makaneta said political parties were also not on board, and neither were civil society organisations in the terrain of education, health and social development.

“I have never seen anyone as delusional as the Basic Education Minister. Opening schools now is really appalling. The decision will cause genocide, and the minister will be held accountable,” he said.

Good Party secretary-general Brett Herron said there was so much not known about the virus. “At one point there was a generally held view that children were not at risk for infection and less likely to transmit the virus. This view is increasingly being disputed and challenged by scientists as more data and evidence becomes available.”

He said schools should reopen when people were confident teachers and front-line workers were adequately protected, when families were fully aware of the risks and how to manage them, and there was proper preparation of school environments."

@SISONKE_MD

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Cape Argus

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