Cape Town - DA leader John Steenhuisen said they are compiling papers to bring an urgent interdict to direct schools to open fully.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced earlier this year that schools would continue operating on a rotational basis to meet the government’s 1-metre distance policy.
“This policy is irrational, unjustifiable, unfair and downright outrageous,” said Steenhuisen.
“There is no justification for continuing with rotational schooling. In the current South African context, this policy is devoid of any benefit in reducing infections,” he said.
Defending this policy, Motshekga said she was following an advisory from the Ministerial Advisory Committee from July 2021.
Steenhuisen said the purpose of the policy was to enable 1m social distancing in classrooms, thereby taking pressure off the health system by slowing the spread of the virus. Currently, the health system has not been under pressure from the virus during the fourth wave.
“Unlike many other countries, there is a very high level of natural immunity in the SA population, driven by a high rate of prior infection. This immunity is now considered by scientists to be in the region of 70-90% of the SA population. Therefore, Covid hospitalisations have been much lower than previous waves,” he said.
He added that without a rational justification, denying schoolchildren their constitutional right to education was a gross miscarriage of justice.
“The DA has, therefore, approached the High Court to compel schools to open fully and immediately,” he said.
In the Western Cape, approximately 1.1 million learners started school today, of which 105 000 started grade 1 and 97 000 started grade 8.
Education MEC Debbie Shafer also called for the scrapping of the rotational system last week.
She repeated the call today while visiting Perivale Primary School to welcome learners to class for the first term.
“Unfortunately, most learners will continue to attend school on a rotational basis, costing our learners further precious time in class, despite recommendations from experts that schools return to full attendance. I will continue to engage with the national government regarding a return to daily attendance for all learners as soon as possible,” she said.