Concerns raised about reopening of schools

Grade 12 and 7 learners are going back to school on 1 June.The National Association of School Governing Bodies is not convinced that all provinces are ready for the reopening of schools on 1 June.Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday announced that only Grades 12 and 7 will be returning to class as part of a phased approach.

The association is concerned that the department is yet to deliver Personal Protective Equipment and other essentials necessary to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

General Secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, Matakanye Matakanya says the minister told them only Gauteng and the Western Cape were ready to reopen when they met on the 11 May, but no further details have been provided about the readiness of other provinces.

“After eight days, the minister comes back and she just says, ‘we’re going to open,’ without really taking us on board to say the seven provinces that were not ready, how far have they gone. We have tabled the non-negotiables: social distancing, PPEs. How far have they gone in terms of involving the school governing bodies? Who to deploy in the school so that they support teachers? I don’t think that teachers will be able to monitor the children when they’re outside the class.”

The Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (FEDSAS) says it has been left with more questions than answers after Motshekga’s announcement.

FEDSAS CEO Paul Colditz says they have been flooded with questions from schools, as well as concerned parents seeking clarity on whether all the necessary requirements have been met for a safe return to school.

“I’m afraid the announcement last night left us with more questions than answers. That’s quite apparent from all the questions we’ve been getting this morning from schools all over the country. The fact is that the grassroots level, we know and have experienced it that the majority of provinces are not ready to open on the 1st, or to receive learners and teachers in an environment which is as far as humanly possible guarantee their safety, well-being and health.”

Revised school calendar

The department is also working on a revised school calendar that will be gazetted. Brahm Fleisch is a Professor of Education Policy from the University of Witwatersrand:

DA welcomes the reopening of schools 

Some political parties have cautiously welcomed the government’s decision to reopen schools. Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister on Higher Education Science and Technology Belinda Bazzoli says this is a welcome move but emphasised that schools should adhere to safety protocols.