Reopening of schools a premature move – PSA

classroom of children

Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are set to return to school from July 6. Picture: African News Agency (ANA).

Staff reporter

Schools have been opened prematurely, says the Public Servants Association which represents thousands of educators and administrative staff in schools across the country.

The PSA called on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to “rectify her mistake of prematurely reopening schools”.

The PSA said in a statement that it based this on infection figures in just the first five days of schools opening for Grade 7 and Grade 12 learners.

“In just the first five days of reopening, reports show that Western Cape has more than 90 educators and more than 250 learners infected with COVID-19. In Gauteng, more than 56 schools were closed due to either educators or learners in the schools being infected. This is the trend across the country with more schools being closed daily. Media reports have shown that School Governing Bodies and COSAS, have pleaded with parents not to send their children to school and have approached the Department of Basic Education to close these schools in their communities due to the positive cases identified,” the statement said.

It said the trend is likely to increase and grow worse once more tests are done and learners interact more.

“Images and videos circulating on social media reflect that some schools are not able to maintain social distancing and fail to use Personal Protective Equipment correctly. Learners are also transported in busses that exceed the loading capacity. The PSA believes that with the current daily infection rate increasing, the daily closing of schools will become the norm across the country. This will result in even more disruptions to the academic year and would ultimately not benefit learners. This will certainly traumatise learners and will have a much more negative impact on learner’s psychological well-being, a price that society will pay for years to come. Infected learners, that must be quarantined and those that were in close contact who must self-isolate, will fall behind during the recovery and incubation period, therefore further disadvantaging them,” the statement said.

The PSA said the academic year could be reworked to run from October to July.

“This will save lives and ensure that learners still receive quality education and continue with the next phase of their lives. The completion of the 2020 academic year should not be at the cost of the lives of our educators and learners. 

“Families will not cope with any eventualities of learner mortalities related to COVID-19, as the infection rate is expected to reach its peak while our health systems are not ready,” the statement said.