The Pretoria High Court ruled that all nursery schools and daycare facilities, not affiliated to public schools, can open as of Monday.
Solidarity’s School Support Centre and the Bronkieland Nursery brought the application after the Minister of Basic Education announced that pre-schools and early childhood development centres affiliated to public schools may open, yet her counterpart in the Ministry of Social Development kept mum regarding the fate of independent early childhood development centres, daycare centers and nurseries.
Solidarity’s School Support Centre says the Pretoria High Court ruling declaring that all independent nursery schools and daycare facilities can open as of today, saved the industry.
Dirk Hermann of Solidarity says the ruling by Judge Hans Fabricious is in the best interest of children and will save many jobs.
Judge Hans Fabricious ruled that the schools can open subject to prescribed safety measures.
Anton van der Merwe of SA Childcare says government has made public a protocol document a few weeks ago for pre-school groups, nurseries and daycare centres. He says they follow the same protocols.
Van der Merwe says it is to the benefit of the children that the schools can open again.
“If you just think about the children. The parents had to go back to work. There was about 11 or 12 million parents that had to go back to work, but nowhere was there an opportunity for them to get daycare for their children. They were not allowed daycare for their children. And we found out and through research, we also saw there were many children that were harmed. Little children that were on their own and they didn’t have sufficient supervision. It was not going well with them,” says Van der Merwe.
In the judgment, Judge Fabricious accepted the expert evidence of the SA Pediatrics Associations which states that children biologically are less likely to get sick if infected, are unlikely to die of the virus and are probably less infectious.
Van der Merwe says the schools will be encouraged to teach children how to be safe.
“Children learn by play. We have told all our schools that they must develop some games of social distancing and so on and even sneezing. We already taught children to sneeze in their elbow long before COVID-19,” says Van der Merwe.
Spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Lumka Oliphant, says they will comment further once they have studied the judgment.
“The Department of Social Development has taken note of the judgment delivered by the Gauteng Division of the High Court today, 6 July 2020, granting independent ECDs to open ‘subject to the appropriate and/or prescribed safety measures being in place.’ The Department will make a further statement once it has fully studied the judgment.”
Judge Fabricious slapped the department with a cost order and said he was dismayed at the way the department conducted itself during the proceedings by not filing documents and adhering to court rules.