The Department of Basic Education has assured returning teachers that measures are still in place to help stop the spread of the coronavirus at schools. About 22 500 teachers were given permission to work from home as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic. The Basic Education Department recently announced that all teachers who were granted permission to work from home due to COVID-19 must report for duty on Monday.

However, in the Western Cape, the Education Department has given the teachers until next Monday to report to schools. Department spokesperson, Bronagh Hammond says it’s reasonable to grant an extension due to the short notice.

“In line with the ELC collective agreement, the concession to work from home will no longer apply under level one, however on Friday when schools were closing for the weekend, the regulations governing alert level one had not yet been gazetted and the WCED had not yet received any communication from the Basic Education Department on the matter.”

In Mpumalanga, close to 3 000 teachers were given permission to work from home as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic. SADTU Provincial secretary, Walter Hlaise urged the teachers who were granted concessions to heed the call by the department and return to work.

“We will not be calling on anyone to violate the terms of the resolution or to renege on the agreement itself. We are trying to teach the employer that when we have signed the agreement everybody must abide to the terms of the agreement, the exception can only be granted by the HOD on the request by the affected individual that is the process they must undertake with the Department but the bulk of the teachers are expected at work.”

Back to school for teachers working from home:

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Cape most of the learners that tested positive at the Ethembeni Secondary School in Burgersdorp, are asymptomatic. The number of learners that have tested positive has risen to over 100. Over 650 learners from the same school have been placed in quarantine.

Provincial Education Spokesperson, Loyiso Pulumani, says learners who have tested positive for the virus will continue with their exams as they are medically fit.

“The number has gone up. The report we got last night from the district director indicated that the number of learners are about 102 now and about 15 educators. What we have noted is that between two towns, some of the learners may have gone home while the process of tracing all of the contacts and testing them. What we have decided to do to make sure that all of the learners and teachers tested positive will be isolated immediately and continue with the trial examinations.”

National spokesperson for the Basic Education Department Elijah Mhlanga has called on schools to ensure that COVID-19 regulations are observed at all times.

“They are able to teach. It takes a bit more time for them to do it. So before learners can come to school, they have to queue outside, each one must be screened and sanitised. They no longer just walk into school. Once they are in school we make sure that learning continues and that is what we want to see and we were able to get substitute teachers and those that were working from home were there. With the return of the 22 500, it will help us somewhat to push the academic programme to the end of the year in a much better way than when they were not in school.”

98 learners test positive at a school in the Eastern Cape: