Independent Online

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Uproar over DBE’s plan to reduce social distancing to half-a-metre in schools

Teacher unions say they were not consulted in regard to the new proposed reduced social distance of half-a-metre in primary schools. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).

Teacher unions say they were not consulted in regard to the new proposed reduced social distance of half-a-metre in primary schools. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA).

Published Aug 6, 2021

Share

Johannesburg - Teacher unions are up in arms over the Department of Basic Education’s plan to reduce social distancing from one metre to half-a-metre in schools.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced this week that the department intended to approach Cabinet in regard to the possible reduction of social distancing in primary schools from one metre to half-a-metre. The new development comes after the publication of the new department Covid-19 directions on July 31 that determine social distancing as 1m.

Story continues below Advertisement

In a joint statement from the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa), National Teachers’ Union (Natu), Professional Educators Union (Peu), SA Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and South African Teachers’ Union (SAOU), the unions said they rejected the new developments.

“Despite warnings from the teacher unions that one metre social distancing is not possible when all primary school learners return to school, it is clear after two school days that compliance with the 1m social distancing is virtually impossible when the traditional time table is followed,” the teacher unions said.

They added that the teacher unions were not consulted in regard to the new proposed reduced social distance of half-a-metre in primary schools.

“It is our contention that this matter must be the subject of genuine consultations with the organised teaching profession and that it must be supported by scientific evidence that the planned reduction will not lead to further infections among learners, educators and members of the broader community.

“No scientific evidence thus far has been provided to the unions in connection with the acceptability of such a reduction,” they said.

The teacher unions added that they were in favour of a return to normality to ensure that the traditional timetables in schools may be reintroduced, but not at the expense of compliance with the required health and safety protocols.

Story continues below Advertisement

“Our advice to schools in the interim is that where the 1m cannot be complied with, the schools should follow the deviation provisions as contained in the Gazette and to continue with rotational timetabling. This is done in the best interest of the child, educators and the community and to ensure that schools do not become super-spreaders …” the unions said.

They said they have formally requested an urgent meeting with the department to discuss the matter.

Motshekga was monitoring teaching and learning at primary schools in the Free State on Thursday where she said the department was looking at measures to have as many learners as possible in schools.

Story continues below Advertisement

She had heard that the unions were concerned that they weren’t consulted but added that the department still needed to engage with the Department of Health and the National Coronavirus Command Council.

“We are going to look at different measures, whether we use school halls or platooning systems or outside places,” the minister said.

She said the department has agreed to meet the unions and provide them with a report. Before the department goes to Cabinet about the proposal, it needed the opinions of the Ministerial Advisory Committee and it would table the matter with the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure.

Story continues below Advertisement

The Star

Related Topics:

schools

Share