‘Total shutdown of schools is the safest measure to save lives’

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A group of concerned parents and allies, under the banner #SaveOurChildren, have reiterated that a total shutdown of schools is the safest measure to save the lives of teachers, children and their families.

This comes after the Basic Education Department amended the schools’ re-opening schedule by only allowing Grades R, 6 and 11 to return to class from Monday, July 6.  Grades 7 and 12 returned to class last month.

South Africa has 168 061 COVID-19 infections and 2 844 deaths.

#SaveOurChildren Representative Abdul Karriem Mathews says infections have also risen in schools since June.

“Schools were impacted. More than 1 500 teachers became infected. Up to 10 teachers have already died. The mere act of opening the schools in May has led to infections spiking among teachers. Those teachers dying is what we call state-sanctioned murder. Opening other grades, especially grade R, who are expected to wear a mask and sanitise, it’s impossible and absurd to open up the schools.”

In the video below, SADTU proposes that Eastern Cape schools close until August:

Slow phasing in of grades welcomed

The Western Cape Education Minister has welcomed the decision for schools to adopt a slightly slower phasing in approach.

Western Cape Education Minister Debbie Schafer says, “We welcome the differentiated approach to phasing in grades that has been provided for and the ability for schools to adopt a slightly slower phasing in approach should they need to do, so grades R, six and 11 must return to school on Monday while schools may  delay the return of the remaining grades scheduled to return next week i.e. one two three and 10.”

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

Some schools not ready for second phase of reopening

Some schools across the country have indicated that they are not ready for the second phase of the reopening.

A teacher unions’ survey indicates that 25 % of schools across South Africa reported not having enough water for COVID-19 related sanitising. In the Eastern Cape, 70% of the schools that need water tanks have not yet received them.

At least 47% of schools that participated in the survey do not have a full complement of teachers and 23% have not been able to construct timetables because of classroom and teacher shortages.

Below is the survey:

Meanwhile, the Educators Union of South Africa (EUSA) is adamant the return to school places lives of children and teachers at risk. It has reiterated its call for teachers to stay away from class. The union says some of its members have contracted COVID-19 and some have already died due to ‘unsafe schools that are without Personal Protective Equipment. ‘
The union has lost a court bid to interdict the schools’ reopening. Mmusi Maimane’s One South Africa Movement has also recently lost its court challenge to block the return to class. The organisation had  also argued that the move puts the country’s health in harm’s way.