The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on National Treasury to declare the Departments of Basic and Higher Education as ‘frontline departments’ given the vast quantity of COVID-19 protocols they have to implement for the safety of millions of children and adults at schools and campuses across the country.

Cabinet has advised Treasury to designate certain departments as ‘frontline’ in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

These ‘frontline’ departments, including the Departments of Social Development, Health as well as both Defence and the Police are to receive additional funding taken from non-frontline departments.

In a statement, the DA says: “If and when non-frontline departments need to implement measures needed for COVID-19, they should pay for this out of their own funds, but the criteria used by Cabinet to decide what a “frontline” department actually is are unknown.

If it refers to the departments that are responsible for supporting the vulnerable and the ill, and, of course, enforcing the regulations, there remains a question about the role of education.”

“Surely our Education Departments are prime amongst those which support and advance the interests of the poor and vulnerable in the millions, and ensure the steady progression of social development and economic growth,” the party adds.

Below is the official opposition’s full statement:

Close schools

The DA’s call comes as various quarters are calling for the temporary closure of schools.

Teachers’ unions want classes put on ice until after, what Sadtu terms, the merciless COVID-19 peak.

Below is a report on Sadtu’s call for the schools’ closure:

The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) supports the call to close schools:

Phased-in return of students to tertiary institutions

Last week, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, announced revised measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic at tertiary institutions.

In Level 4 of the lockdown, students in their final year of study in programmes requiring clinical training returned.

Now under Level 3, 33% of the student population was allowed to return to campus and residences on condition that they can be safely accommodated and supported in line with the health and safety protocols as directed by the Department.

In the video below, Nzimande brief the media on level 3 regulations: