Warnings of chaos as more kids told to return to school on Monday: report

Schools are likely to face chaos on Monday (6 June) as children in grades R, 6 and 11 are expected to return to class, says professional teachers group, Naptosa.

The group said that schools are simply not ready to take on the next wave of learners and recommends that the entire process be delayed until August.

Speaking to Rapport, Naptosa said that over 18 schools it visited this past week did not have the required personal protection equipment to take on new learners.

Covid-19 cases among teachers and school kids, meanwhile, are also spiking – with 775 schools affected. Around 523 learners and 1,169 teachers are infected.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) this week postponed the return of a number of school grades, citing the rising number of coronavirus cases in the country.

The department said that the decision was taken after the Council of Ministers (CEM) received a number of briefings from education stakeholders.

“After careful consideration of all the reports CEM took a decision that only Grade 6, Grade 11 and Grade R will return to school on Monday (6 July).

“The decision affects all provinces. The other grades will be phased (in) during the month of July in a differentiated approach within the stipulated time frames as per the gazette of 29 June as published by the minister.”

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga said that her department will adjust the reopening of phases based on a risk-adjusted strategy.

“We are guided in this by an observation of the rising numbers of community transmissions throughout the country. We recognise that schools are based in communities and learners live in the same affected communities and therefore a careful balancing act must be maintained,” she said.

However, Naptosa told Rapport that confusion persists around the issue, as the department has not yet gazetted the changes laid out by the minister, and no reasoning has been provided.

“The opening and shutting of schools is massively disruptive and (these types of changes) place school heads in an incredibly difficult position,” the group said.

While Naptosa has suggested that the return of other grades be pushed back to August, teachers and education groups have expressed concern about the rapid rise of Covid-19 cases, especially in provinces like Gauteng, and have proposed schools only return to normal function after the peak of the pandemic.

Various education departments across provinces told Rapport that they are guided by the Department of Basic Education on the matter.

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