The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu-Natal says it is not convinced that the province is ready for the re-opening of schools. This is in reaction to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that Grades 12 and Seven will be returning to class from June first, as part of a phased approach, while the country battles coronavirus.

IFP member of the KZN legislature, Mntomuhle Khawula, says the supply of personal protective equipment is a challenge.

“The department reports that PPEs have been distributed for educators and learners, that sanitisers have been delivered, that schools will have water. All this has not been done. Where schools have received these materials they’ve not been enough for everybody at school. Damaged and vandalised schools have not been repaired, water tanks have not been delivered, teachers and food handlers have not been trained on COVID-19. The IFP wants teaching and learning to resume under safe conditions not in conditions that will make teachers and learners the sacrificial lambs of COVID-19 in our country,” explains Khawula.

Teachers are meant to return to school on Monday to prepare for the reopening. However, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has said the province’s educators will only report to work on Thursday when all PPEs would have been delivered to schools.

In the video below, Motshekga briefs the media on the reopening of schools:

The governing African National Congress (ANC) meanwhile fully supports Motshekga’s decision.

“We welcome the opening of schools for Grade 7’s and 12’s. It will be up to us as parents to make sure that kids are safe and adhere to the PPE’s and sanitising,” says party spokesperson, Pule Mabe.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister on Higher Education, Science and Technology, Belinda Bazzoli, welcomed the move but said that schools should adhere to safety protocols.

“We think it’s a good thing that matric students get to go on to university or college and we were very worried that they were being held back. I think it’s a good thing that primary school kids at Grade 7 will be able to go up to high school so that the system doesn’t get clocked up by students being held back by the coronavirus. Schools can safely reopen.”

The Congress of the People (COPE) cautiously accepted the move. “For as long as there are precautionary measures, we don’t want to send our kids and teachers to a slaughter field. We are very concerned that everything must be there before teachers and children can go into a school,” says party spokesperson, Dennis Bloem.

In the video below, political parties react to the reopening of schools:

Civil society expresses its views on the matter in the video below:

Below is an infographic on the opening of schools on level 3: