Keep schools open, vaccinate teachers

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Through Nathan Craig, Siyabonga Mkhwanazi 3h ago

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Schools are to remain open and all teachers will be vaccinated by July 8, but industry players will keep a watchful eye on the department to ensure they stay on track.

Informing the media of the impact of Covid-19 on schools across the country yesterday, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said that following advice from medical experts and a meeting with the MECS of education, school governing bodies, unions and principals all agreed that schools should remain open.

There are more than 25,000 schools in the country and their closure could lead to a school disaster, the minister said, adding that they would monitor the situation weekly and deal with each school on a case-by-case basis.

“Doing business under Covid-19 means finding a balance between saving lives and livelihoods. We believe schools should remain open and, in saying this, we are not oblivious to concerns about the increase in infections. We are guided by the Ministerial Advisory Committee, the National Coronavirus Command Council and the Cabinet in the fight against Covid, ”Motshekga said.

She acknowledged that the education sector had been disrupted, but said the department would stick to its original decision to allow all elementary students to return to school on July 26 for the resumption of third. trimester.

Motshekga said 582,000 teachers would be vaccinated over a two-week period, regardless of their age. The rollout will begin Wednesday and end on July 8, the day before schools close for the end of the term.

“Over the next two weeks, we’re going to be bugging our school communities to drop everything and get vaccinated. In order for us to carry out this program, we will need to keep the schools open. Any disruption would be undesirable, ”Motshekga said.

The department has already obtained more than 300,000 doses of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson.

SA Democratic Teachers Union spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said they did not oppose the department’s decision. “We take note of the Minister’s announcement. We do not oppose it but will continue to engage the Ministry of Basic Education, on the basis of escalating transmissions. “

Thirona Moodley, executive director of the National Organization of Professional Teachers from SA to KZN, welcomed the minister’s announcement, calling immunizations in the education sector a step in the right direction.

“Our teachers need to be protected to function optimally, which allows all learners to return to school and minimizes learning losses. Support staff and administrators are an integral part of running the school and we welcome their vaccination. ” she said.

Moodley said careful planning and collaboration between the health and education departments was crucial.

“The deadlines are tight, KZN has the largest number of employees in the country with more than 107,000, and the size and rural nature of the province could be difficult, but not insurmountable.

The National Secretary General and KZN President of the Association of SA Directors, Linda Shezi, said she was grateful that the immunization plan was inclusive.

“The fear would have been to divide schools into those that were vaccinated and those that were not, but that’s no longer a problem. Now we plan to keep a close eye on the logistics and planning of the department to keep them honest and on time, ”she said.

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