The National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) says the meeting between teachers’ unions and Basic Education Minister Angie has been postponed to an unspecified date.

Motshekga was due to meet with the unions this morning to discuss their call for schools to be closed. Teachers’ union, Natu, and students’ organisation Cosas have joined Sadtu’s call for schools to close amid the pandemic except for the matric class of 2020. The World Health Organisation has also warned against the reopening of schools while COVID-19 infections are on the rise.

Naptosa also wants classes suspended.  The union’s executive director, Basil Manuel, says the closure of schools may not happen immediately, but their call is for the period when the pandemic reaches its peak in the country.

“We were due to meet her this morning but unfortunately that meeting has now been postponed and we don’t yet have a time for when the meeting will happen where we will put this to her. Everybody’s telling us that we are peaking or that the peak is imminent and that is why we haven’t put a date to this we said we need to close schools when the virus peaks but we also know how difficult it is to pin a date to that and when the return will be and how difficult that is. So this is about the virus unfortunately, it’s not perfect science.”

The National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB) says it is still engaging its provincial structures before it announces its stance on the possible closure of schools during the peak of the coronavirus in South Africa.

“Our position is that we directed all the provinces to start negating the matter because we have been guided by the principles of safety first and we have just realised that now our children and our teachers are no more safe in schools so we have said now provinces must tell us what our position will be. Probably tomorrow or Friday we shall make our position known to the country,” says the organisation’s General Secretary Matakanye Matakanye.

In the video below, is a discussion on the best way to keep safe as infections rise:

Children less infectious 

President of the South African Medical Research Council and member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID19, Professor Glenda Gray, says there is no scientific evidence to suggest that the opening of schools has resulted in an increase in coronavirus infections among educators.

Teacher union, Sadtu, says at least 67 teachers in the Eastern and Western Cape have died of COVID-19 since the reopening of schools last month. Another 300 of them have tested positive for the coronavirus across the country.

Gray says children are less infectious than adults and the teachers most likely caught the infection outside of the school.

“Our decisions have to be data-driven if you look at the global and local epidemic we know that most children are gonna be okay and because kids are less infectious they are less likely to infect the teachers. We have to find a way of protecting the vulnerable and elderly and teachers with comorbidities and who are old and find a way to keep the schools open and we have to try and balance all of these in the face of this epidemic that will continue with us until we have a vaccine. Children are less infectious they have less viral load; i’ts very hard to say that these teachers got infected by their students,” Gray adds.

Earlier, the South Africa Medical Association (SAMA) said only schools in areas with more COVID-19 cases should close during the pandemic’s peak.

In the video below, Northern Cape parents call for schools to be closed: