EWN 28 April 2020

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN – There’s growing uncertainty and concern around government’s so-called phased approach to the reopening of schools as the country approaches Level 4 of the national lockdown on Friday.

The Basic Education Department on Monday postponed its much-anticipated briefing that was expected to provide clarity on the academic calendar.

Teacher’s union Sadtu is concerned about whether health and safety protocols have been put in place to ensure pupils, parents and educators aren’t exposed to the coronavirus.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, this is what Health Minster Zweli Mkhize had to say about the matter.

“There’s a phased approach to opening the schools. The risk to children is not as strong in so far as contracting the virus is concerned, it’s not so much the children, it’s how they will infect their own parents and grandparents when they come back, that’s what we’re really trying to look out for.”

The Basic Education Department said that it had to postpone its briefing yesterday to assess other interventions by the national command council this week.

Meanwhile, teacher’s union Naptosa said that the lockdown had left educators, learners and their parents anxious about the school year.

It’s been well over a month since pupils and teachers saw the inside of a classroom.

At this stage, no clear date has been set for learners to return to school or what schooling will look like.

Naptosa’s Basil Manuel: “Some teachers want to get back, others, of course, are worried about a particular grade, like the matrics. We’re worried about the grade ones, as the sheer amount of work that the grades ones have lost, those poor little kids will come back and they will have forgotten everything, so there’s a lot of stress out there and everybody is worried.”

He believes the Education Minister’s response to this pandemic has been sensible.

“Of course, you don’t; want to hype people up, getting them running in a direction to then retract it a little later. The system must be ready before such pronouncements are made and I think that the measured, calm approach is a far more sensible approach, particularly in this hyped-up period that we’re in.”

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