Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says the department is now facing a challenge of break-ins at schools as criminals target Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Lesufi visited Ga-Rankuwa Primary School in Tshwane where the department has been having problems with delivering PPEs due to disruptions by some governing bodies which do not want the services of the company that has been tasked to deliver PPEs.

Police had to be roped in to help deliver the equipment. Most schools have, however, received protective gear.

Grade 7 and 12 learners are expected to return to school on  1 June.

Lesufi says although security has been beefed up to help deliver the equipment to schools, they might have to look at other alternatives.

“So far, there have been five schools that have been vandalised, where people are looking for the PPE’s. And that is why I’m persuading the Department of Health that we might have to concentrate on using soap at our schools because the PPE’s, that have an element of alcohol, are starting to attract the wrong people.”

Gauteng Education visits several schools to check the state of readiness ahead of schools re-opening: 

Concerns raised about children going back to school

There have been concerns from teacher unions and parents about the re-opening of schools since the announcement was made.

Lesufi says he is confident that learners will come in their numbers when schools re-open on Monday.

“I really believe the majority of parents will bring their children. We don’t know when will this COVID-19 end. If we knew it was ending in September then we could sacrifice and wait. It may go beyond 2021. It may go beyond 2022. Do we want to be a country that has to produce a generation of learners that has not gone to school? Surely not. Because this is the generation that must properly take the country forward. We can’t keep them back, but at the same time, we must protect.”

But there is a school in the West Rand that might not open due to cases of COVID-19 in that area.

“There is a mining area in the West Rand. If there is one area we are worried about, it is that area, because there are workers from that mine that tested positive … 162 miners. I spoke to the MEC that we will seek guidance on whether the school in that ward, should it open or not. So, that’s one area we are putting our energy on. We will be guided by the MEC of Health and also be guided by the premier if that school will have to delay the opening.”

At Ga-Rankuwa Primary School, Principal Ernest Boikanyo, says the school is expecting 137 learners.

Boikanyo says teachers at this school have shown interest in coming back, despite concerns by teacher unions.

“Fortunately, I’ve been in constant touch with educators. They have been ever ready to come back to school. We are finalising the preparations to ensure that come Monday, all the teachers are safe in terms of PPEs, social distancing in class and everything that needs to be done as per requirement by the department.”

Lesufi says the department will also be monitoring adherence by private schools.

Below are some of the measures which will be put in place when schools re-open: