Pretoria - The Congress of SA Students (Cosas) in Limpopo has raised concerns about learners having to return to school before getting the Covid-19 jab.
Provincial chairperson Ntwanano Ngobeni said the organisation was monitoring how the department would prioritise the matter.
It threatened to ask its members to stay home if there was no clear programme of how learners would get vaccinated.
This comes as thousands of learners returned to school after a three-week break, initially meant to be two weeks but extended due to the adjusted level 4 lockdown regulations.
Chief among concerns was that teachers had been vaccinated while learners were left vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking to the Pretoria News yesterday, Ngobeni warned while it was necessary that children get back to school, the department should keep a close eye on those who might get infected.
“It’s unfortunate that the department does not want to meet us
halfway with the process of getting ready to vaccinate learners. We are appealing to them that they at least start vaccinating half of the population of pupils.
“We are asking them to meet us halfway, and start with a programme of how they will administer the vaccinations, otherwise we will ask our members to stay home until they are vaccinated. We are in consultations ... to pave a way forward,” Ngobeni said.
He added the department’s stance that only learners with comorbidities were to be vaccinated was not viable.
“Every kid must just be vaccinated. It’s not every kid that has comorbidities that will volunteer to get the shot. We don’t want them to be victimised, so everyone must get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, the provincial Department of Education said it was ready with the commencement of the third term.
Spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said yesterday: “Learners are returning to school this week on rotational timetables, as was the case before recess. The return of all primary school learners for daily attendance is planned for August 2.
“The education sector is still on full alert and will continue to apply standard operating procedures for the prevention and management of Covid-19 in schools. This includes ensuring wearing of masks, daily screening, sanitising of hands and frequently touched surfaces, and social distancing.
“Unauthorised, non-academic visits to schools are prohibited based on the current Covid-19 risk adjusted strategy level and the need for schools to strictly focus on catching up on lost teaching and learning time.”
She said MEC for Education, Polly Boshielo, and senior management of the department would be monitoring the reopening of schools this week to assess the settling in of learners and assist in areas where there might be challenges.
"We are happy to welcome back our learners, educators and support staff back to school.
“We have a mammoth task ahead of us in terms of catching up on lost time, at the same time navigating through challenges presented by Covid-19. I am however confident that we will have a productive third term," Boshielo said.