The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) has urged government to only re-open the schools when it is absolutely safe to do so. Teachers are expected to return to schools on Monday.

Learners at public schools are expected back in the classrooms on 15 February.

Cosas says the department’s pronouncement to re-open the schools on the 15th of next month is premature. The movement says authorities should continue to monitor the situation before learners and teachers can be allowed back at schools.

Free State Cosas Chairperson, Katleho Mangoejane, says stakeholders should await President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation on the progress made during the adjusted Level 3 lockdown restrictions.

“We will wait for the president to address probably on the 14th of February. We will hear the president addressing on how the cases are. We can’t obviously open the schools without hearing what the president has said. Therefore, even the date of the 15, we can’t make it a cast in stone as yet. We must wait to hear what the president is going to say and then a date will be later determined,” says Mangoejane.

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The National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) has emphasised the importance of prioritising farm schools in the coronavirus prevention strategy.

Naptosa’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Ramakhera Dikotsi, says teachers and learners in some of the affected schools have been battling to receive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“For now, as a union, Naptosa Free State, we are quite happy. The biggest problem we seem to be having is the situation where the EAs now who are supposed to help SMTs … no one is attending to them; no one is addressing them. They are not sure what is it that they must do, but we are looking forward to assist the department in making sure that we are going to assist them and make sure the schools resume well on 15 February when learners come back,” says Dikotsi.

Meanwhile, National Congress of School Governing Bodies’ Secretary-General, Thabang Motloung, says they are happy with the measures taken by the department.

“As an organisation representing all school governing bodies, we are happy about measures put in place by the Department of Basic Education under the leadership of Angie Motshega. Now, we are appealing to the teacher’s union to report to duty on 15 February 2021 because all schools have received PPEs and textbooks,” says Motloung.

The provincial education department says the safety of teachers and learners is of paramount importance and that safety protocols will continue to be observed.

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