Johannesburg – Equal Education (EE) and the Equal Education Law Center (EELC), as well as teachers’ unions, praised the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for taking a cautious and case-by-case approach in the management of Covid-19 infections in schools.
EE spokesperson Jay-Dee Cyster said he believed the move was in line with its risk-adjusted strategy and has significantly helped manage fears about school safety, while protecting students. learners of the detrimental effects of not being in school every day.
âWe are also celebrating the announcement by Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, that the 582,000 school staff in our country will have the opportunity to get vaccinated by July 8.
âSince last year, we have called on the DBE to implement the risk-adjusted strategy so that teaching and learning can continue in schools in areas of the country where community transmission is low. or none, allowing the same schools to close later when community transmission becomes high.
âAlthough DBE has developed a comprehensive digital system to guide the implementation of this strategy, no province has yet implemented it. Minister Motshekga should now ensure that provinces use this strategy to guide the case-by-case approach to opening and closing schools.
âIt is vital to protect the time that learners can spend in school. Learning members of EE explained how difficult it is when schools are closed – which affects their access to school meals and counseling, limits their interactions with friends and ability to learn, and harms their mental health . For many learners, their schools provide a safe environment, âsaid Cyster.
The EE and EELC also welcomed the latest set of guidance from the DBE, which determines that all primary learners return to school full-time, saying the basic phase of schooling is critical.
âIt is in these classes that basic learning skills have to be acquired. All subsequent learning is built on this stage of schooling which bears its name well.
âOur submission to DBE on guidance projects – before they were finalized – proposed that provincial departments of education prioritize providing additional resources to schools that cannot return to a schedule. fulltime.
âWe have also proposed that the head of the provincial department develop a register of schools that are unable to return to a full-time schedule, to ensure that there is supervision and that schools receive the help they need to transition to full-time education. “said Cyster.
The South African Student Congress (Cosas in the Western Cape has called for close monitoring of the vaccine rollout by educators and those in the education sector, to start this week.
Cosa Acting Provincial Secretary Mphumzi Giwu urged regional and branch leaders to closely observe the deployment and investigate any positive cases reported in their schools.
Motshekga told media on Saturday that the decision to send the founding phase leaders back to full-time school had been adequately scrutinized within the sector, with key stakeholders contributing to the process.
âWe have been guided by various studies that have looked at the teaching and learning losses already experienced in the sector; scientific evidence regarding the impact of Covid-19 on young children; as well as advice from the medical fraternity.
âThe Cabinet approved and supported the sector’s proposal to prepare for the return of the traditional timetable to primary level from the first day of the third school term on July 26, 2021.
âWe have given ourselves two months to prepare for this colossal task. At present, the provinces are at various stages of preparation in terms of the return to school of all elementary students on a daily basis.
âWe are aware that there are many variables that will make this task successful. DBE is currently holding one-on-one sessions with each provincial education department to check their readiness, âMotshekga said.
The executive director of the National Organization of Professional Teachers of South Africa, Basil Manuel, said his union fully supported Motshekga, saying his comments had been consistent over a period of time.
âWe have received reports from scientists and health experts that it is too early to have major panic. Motshekga’s decision is sound, âManuel said.
Sadtu was not available for comment. Previously, EFF had threatened to close schools if Motshekga implemented full-time return of foundational phase learners.