Teacher unions question whether all schools are ready to open
By Karen Singh 20m ago
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DURBAN – Teacher unions believe some schools are not ready to open on Monday. National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) said it was not convinced all schools would be in a position to open safely.
Naptosa KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley said the Education Department reported all sanitisers and detergents have been delivered to districts. However, not all schools have received them.
“The delivery of masks to schools is also not completed and we have to question whether this will all be in schools by tomorrow (February 12).” She said the department had also released a “vague” circular regarding the management of educators with co-morbidities, which has let to confusion.
National Teachers Union’s (Natu) general secretary Cynthia Barnes said the department failed to engage with unions prior to issuing circulars and agree the circular was not clear about teachers with co-morbidities returning to school.
She said Natu was not against the opening of schools, but wanted teachers to be safe. “We cannot say teachers must go to school and risk their lives.”
Moodley said schools had to plan around concessions granted, including timetable adjustments and acquiring substitute educators.
“Schools are not sure how to plan as the department has not communicated that the directions published by the Minister in 2020 are still applicable.
“It is for this reason that some schools feel obliged to get all learners back on Monday.”
Barnes said some schools were not ready to open, considering non-negotiables such as masks and sanitisers were not in place.
She said Natu requested during a meeting that the department deliver all the necessary equipment to the schools rather than principals having to collect the items. “Some of the principals of the schools do not have vehicles.”
Barnes said some schools did not receive mobile classrooms to alleviate congestion.
Chairperson of the KZN Parents Association, Vee Gani, said the department advised them last week that 98% of the twelve districts in KZN had received personal protective equipment (PPE) with the remainder to be delivered this week.
He said schools should be ready for the return of pupils because they have been running with a full staff compliment from February 1. Gani said most schools had been proactive and worked to get their schools ready to reopen while some have not done anything.
“There is no reason why, in two weeks, they would be unable to get the school ready.”
Matakanye Matakanya, of the National Association of School Governing Bodies (NASGB), said schools were ready to open and parents were ready to allow their children to return to school.
The department said schools were ready to open on Monday. Basic Education Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said Education Minister Angie Motshekga would provide further details at a briefing on Sunday.
He advised parents to prepare their children for the new normal to curb the spread of Covid-19. “Adherence to the Covid-19 safety protocols are paramount as health and safety is the focus for the Department as the virus is still with us.”
The department released an updated academic calendar starting on February 15 and ending on December 15.