Political parties have weighed in on the debate about the continued teaching and learning at South African schools amid a rapid rise of COVID-19 infections.
The governing African National Congress (ANC) has echoed sentiments of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that schools should only be reopened in the context of low community transmission rates of coronavirus.
“We do share sentiments expressed by the WHO that the reopening of schools has got to go with the lower community transmissions. His advice that countries that have followed the necessary health protocols have been able to safely return kids to schools this means that here in RSA our authority in the work that they do they ensure that there is a greater and maximum compliance with the health protocols,” says ANC Spokesperson, Pule Mabe.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also agrees with WHO.
“The EFF has from the onset been against the reckless reopening of schools. We have requested that until it is safe to do so scientifically our children should stay home. We agree therefore with the World health organisation that until we deal with community transmissions and make sure that its safe for our children to go back to school, let our children stay at home. We should not be playing political football with the lives of our children,” EFF Spokesperson Delisile Ngwenya says.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has on the other hand rejected teacher union Sadtu’s call for the closure of schools until after the COVID-19 peak, dismissing it as reckless.
The official opposition says the call is an attempt to disrupt the completion of the academic year and the academic progression of learners.
In the video below, Prof. Glenda Gray talks about the decision to reopen schools:
Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, has acknowledged that the ministerial advisory committee agreed to reopen the schools despite the WHO stance. Mkhize says communities have to learn to co-exist with the virus and the decision to re-open schools was not taken lightly.
4 346 South Africans have succumbed to the virus while more than 298 000 others have been infected.
There are over 16 000 teachers who have declared comorbidities nationwide and have applied to work from home.
A recent study has found that anxiety levels among teachers in under resourced schools are much higher compared to those in urban schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Medical Association ( SAMA) says it although in principle it agrees with the call to close schools during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, it has cautioned that it should only be done in communities with a high rate of infections.
In the video below, Sadtu explains call for immediate closure of schools:
Below, WHO warns against reopening schools: