The Democratic Alliance (DA) is challenging the decision to close public schools and believes this decision is “political rather than scientifically motivated” and not in the best interest of schoolchildren.
“The decision to close schools for four weeks is irrational based on the available evidence which is that schools do not expose learners and staff to higher levels of risk than other places,” said the party in a media statement.
“The DA’s position remains that those parents who choose to keep their children out of school should be allowed to do so. Staff members who choose to stay home must accept a salary cut.”
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a four week closure for public schools from July 27 to August 24. Grade 12 learners will however break for one week and return on August 3, and Grade 7s will break for two weeks and return on August 10.
The president also announced that the academic year would be extended beyond 2020.
“The cost to closing schools is profound and will be borne by children and families for many years. Many children will drop out of school never to return, and many more will fall so far behind that they are never able to catch up”, said DA interim leader John Steenhuisen.
Professor Shabir Madhi, who serves on the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), said that the government had not taken their advice that schools should not be closed.
“I think it’s a case of the government deciding to take advice from the unions, rather than from the scientists, because the scientific community has been pretty uniform that there is very little reason to close schools.
“The opening of schools has got very little to do with the transmission of the virus and if anything, the closure of the schools is going to do more harm than good.”
Meanwhile, several political parties had, from the start, spoken against the reopening of schools from June 8.
Maimane and his One South Africa Movement previously took the Department of Basic Education to court to have the reopening decision revoked but the court dismissed the case.