Teaching at Potchefstroom Secondary School in Muhadin in the North West has been affected after some teachers affiliated to the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) refused to report for duty amid coronavirus concerns. They had written to the Department of Basic Education in the province alleging the school is not complying with COVID -19 regulations. Learners at the school say their future is bleak.

The school has 69 grade 12 learners. According to the school governing body, about 12 teachers have not been reporting for duty since schools reopened for grade 7 and 12 learners on June 8.

Learners say, for the past three weeks, they have been going to school but instead of being taught they just sit around.

“We are not being taught yet you will be expected to sit down for exams within a month’s time. It is really frustrating, I do not know what is going on.”

“Ever since the schools have been reopened we have not received our reports for term one and the universities are expecting us to apply with those results.”

“We have been in school for a long time, it has always been our mandate to finish it and the government suddenly opens the school, so that we come to school and study but still our teachers are no here.”

The school governing body says it has reported the matter to the Department of Basic Education, but nothing has been done.

“This school was cleansed twice and they did not come to school even after we have done the deep cleansing. So we are aware of their complaints, there is a letter that they wrote, we have seen it and still, after we tried to address their concerns they did not still come up and we have engaged the Department of Education on this matter,” Chairperson for the School Governing Body, Sam Tselanyane, says.

Members of both the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) and the National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) have been going to class. Naptosa says the Department of Education in the province needs to step in.

SADTU in the province says it will respond to these allegations once it has gathered facts regarding the matter.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education in the province has indicated that action will be taken against educators who have absconded.

Spokesperson Elias Malindi says: “And now we are left with no choice as the department but to institute the disciplinary processes on these very same teachers because even the department ensured that they engage with the school governing body to communicate about these issues.”

The school was closed on Monday after one of the learners contracted COVID-19.

Schools urged to stick to COVID-19 protocols 

On Saturday, the national Basic Education Department urged schools to adhere to strict protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as cases surge.

According to the latest figures, schools across the country have recorded 1 692 COVID-19 positive cases. Of the infected, 523 of them are learners and 1 169 are staff members. These cases are only from June when schools reopened amid the nationwide lockdown.

In the video below, Cosas talks about the state of readiness to reopen schools to more grades: