The National Teacher’s Union (NATU) has called on the Department of Basic Education to reconsider keeping substitute teachers in schools until the end of the year.

Over 20 000 teachers who were granted concessions to work from home during the lockdown, are expected to return to school on Monday as the country moves to Alert Level 1.

The substitute teachers were employed in their absence.

NATU’s Allen Thompson says those who are not feeling well should not go back to school.

“We want to make a call again that the teachers that have been employed as substitute teachers in those schools that were fortunate to get substitute teachers, the department must consider allowing those teachers to continue assisting teachers with comorbidities, especially because we still have overcrowded classes. That is going to perpetuate the problem of infection in school. There is no class that must have more than 40 learners in the classroom. So, as a result, we still need additional teachers who are going to ensure that we reduce the class size,” says Thompson.

Earlier this month, some educators who have chronic ailments that are flagged as high risk co-morbidities for COVID-19 raised concerns over the processing of concession leave applications.

The teachers, who have been approved to work from home, said they had not been provided with the necessary resources to work remotely.

They said though government guidelines are clear on which chronic conditions are considered high-risk for complications should they get infected with COVID-19, many of their colleagues were advised by their circuit officials not to submit their applications at all as they do not qualify.

COVID-19 Pandemic | Thousands of teachers have underlying conditions in South Africa:

Meanwhile, the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has advised educators who are not ready to return to school on Monday to apply for normal leave as the concession agreement for them to work from home expires.

All teachers who were granted concessions to work from home during the nationwide lockdown have to report back to school on Monday.

The Basic Education Department says 22 500 teachers were given permission to work from home as the country battled the coronavirus pandemic.

Sadtu General-Secretary Mugwena Maluleke says teachers must apply for leave if they can’t return to work.

“Those who are still having some risk of returning they will apply for normal leave in terms of personnel administrative measures so that those particular teachers will be granted leave and therefore, the school will then qualify for a substitute teacher unlike in the past when the school had to suffer not being able to get a substitute teacher because the teacher was deemed to be working at home. Now, the teacher will be on leave and the school automatically qualifies for a substitute teacher.”

Education unions give members a directive to stay home: