The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) has called on the Department of Basic Education not to send learners to school unless they have thoroughly disinfected the learning institutions. Contralesa believes that the 100 days of lockdown have not been adequately used to prepare schools for re-opening.

The Congress members travelled to rural parts of the country to identify all schools that are not meeting COVID-19 regulations.

Some schools are ready to accept more learners, while some are not. On Monday Grades R, 6 and 11 are expected to return to school.

Contralesa has called on government to stop the process of phasing-in learners. It says many schools in rural areas do not meet COVID-19 requirements for re-opening.

“Why must our children be taken to school when the government has not done enough to ensure that they are safe for the learners? Some have no water, there are no toilets so there won’t be any hygiene. Some schools have not even fumigated,” Contralesa President Lameck Mokoena says.

Mokoena says the government promised to address a number of challenges faced by schools, especially in rural areas, before the Department of Education allowed Grade 7 and 12 learners to return, but nothing has changed.

“It is not the first time we are raising this concern. We once raised this concern directly to the Minister that we do not have a problem if other grades will open especially Grade 12 and Grade 7. And now we are told that they are going to add other Grades. Those concerns that we raised then, we thought the department will have addressed them now, but it is just unfortunate that some of the schools as we speak have not yet opened because all the requirements that were stared by the regulation were not met.”

The Department of Education promised to answer all questions on Sunday at a press briefing.