Parents’ school dilemma
CAPE TOWN - Parents are faced with a momentous decision come Monday morning: Do they send their children back to school or keep them home in order to protect them from Covid-19?
A massively divergent set of views is to be expected, given very different personal circumstances, said Dr Malcolm Venter, provincial executive officer for the Western Cape arm of the Governing Body Foundation.
“Some parents are back at work and desperate for their kids to go back to school. Others have been teaching at home and wouldn’t mind continuing. Others with sick or aged people in the home don’t want to send their children back to school. Some parents in township areas where children run around outside, think they will be safer at school, and some parents want their children to go to get a meal at school.”
A group of 60 concerned parents from Curro Brackenfell have brought their grievances to the school following issues with learning in lockdown.
Despite sanitation measures promised by the school, many don’t want to send their children back until September and would prefer to continue supervising school work from home.
And, as many parents have raised during lockdown, they are unhappy about paying full fees when their children are no longer in the classroom.
Carmen Jansen said parents of children in grades 1, 2 and 3 are dissatisfied that they are paying full fees and teaching the children themselves.
“We’ve been paying R5000 a month since the lockdown started, and we end up doing the bulk of the work with our kids. There wasn’t guidance from teachers; the burden was on us as parents. They only get one 30-minute class a day, and that only started three weeks back,” Jansen said. “Parents are stressed out. We had to make huge sacrifices to have our kids there. We feel the school needs to give us a discounted rate.”
Curro said it was not discounting fees because it anticipates completing schooling for the year.
In an extensive set of emails, Curro’s chief legal adviser Louis Booyse said: “Curro envisages making up all of the required school days for 2020, utilising both shorter holidays and longer school days, with the year ending well into December. That will ensure that we shall deliver on our commitment to offer quality education to all our learners, and thus fulfilling our contractual obligations.”
Booyse said parents are able to access financial assistance from the school, and Curro has set up a R50 million Covid-19 Care Fund to provide help in special circumstances.
“Parents are urged to make use of the relief measures. Curro will continue to make informed decisions with regards to finances. Curro has no intention to profit from this crisis.”
Jansen said the majority of parents she has spoken to did not want to send their children back, despite sanitation and safety measure assurances.
“Most of us are keeping our kids at home until at least September. How is a 6-year-old going to sit in a classroom from the minute he or she arrives, confined to a desk wearing a mask?”
Petty Manga, former secretary of the Khayelitsha School Governing Body Association, said she would be sending her children to school on Monday. “I’ve got one child in Grade 12,” she said. “The school sent me a letter saying everything is fine. They’ve got everything they need to social distance and sanitise. I’m going to take my child to school so I will see the social distancing.”