The National Professional Teachers Oganisation (Naptosa) says Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has failed to outline a plan to provide psycho-social support for learners and teachers in the midst of rising coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the country.
Motshekga says all Grade R learners must have returned to school by the end of July.
Motshekga says 4% of schools nationwide were forced to close and re-open because of COVID-19 since classes resumed for Grades seven and 12 on 8 June.
Grade six and 11 will return on Monday, but only schools that are ready to receive Grade R should do so on Monday.
Naptosa Executive Director, Basil Manuel, says a teacher or learner testing positive has an immense psychological impact on the whole school and parents.
“What she misses out on is the psychological impact of a positive case; what that has on the broader school community, including the rest of the teachers. And yes, of course, there have been relatively, but you haven’t seen how people have crumbled just from the idea that somebody within their midst has tested positive and there has been a sore lack of psycho-social support for our teachers and by extension our learners as well.”
The ANC says as more learners are set to resume schooling, parents must teach their children the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves from COVID-19.
ANC Spokesperson Pule Mabe echoed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for South Africans to embrace the new way of life and ensure their safety and the safety of others. Mabe says the ANC is monitoring the work done by its structures in all provinces.
“Unless our people practice the necessary precautions, we will not be able to defeat this. We are continuing to use ANC structures on a daily basis to monitor the work that is happening at each and every ward throughout the country; monitor cases to find the best ways to fight the pandemic.”
Not a good idea
Some parents and learners say it is not a good idea that Motshekga is phasing in the return of more grades. They say with more learners going to back to school, exposure to COVID-19 is very high.
“I’m also a parent with a child from foundation phase who goes back to school. I don’t even know how I feel; I’m so scared. We will see what’s going to happen with our children, whether they will be safe,” one parent says.
One Grade 11 learner says he’s scared to go back to school amid the pandemic.
“I don’t feel safe with coronavirus because is in the air. We mingle with many people on our way school. Learning from home is a good idea because we are going to be safe as we don’t meet with other people. We should just use online learning.”
South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) Secretary General is Mugwena Maluleke says the phasing in of only three grades is an indication that the department is not ready to receive all the learners.
“Our submission to the Minister had been to study the rising in numbers of the infections in the communities and the delay in phasing in other grades. However, we note that grades six and 11 will then be phased in. Our position remains that any school that is not in terms of the safety and health precaution should not risk receiving the learners.”