Monitoring Schools During COVID-19

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Various activists and organisations in the COVID-19 Working Class Campaign (CWCC) has been monitoring the re-opening of Gauteng schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities around the province have had different experiences as learners started going back to school on 8 June.

Khanya staff visited Tjhaba Tsatsi Primary School and parents were not clearly satisfied. Most were denied access into the school when they asked to see how safe their children would be at the school. Most of the parents are in support of boycotting the re-opening of schools. They said that their children would not be attending school the following day but that they would return as “we were promised to be taken inside the school for observations”.

But when the Karibu! team arrived at the school the following morning, we found that the parents were even angrier as they were not allowed inside the school. “We were told to go to the district and then come back with a letter,” one parent said. The school principal did not want to comment on the matter, claiming she was too busy.

Later that day, Karibu! interviewed two grade 7 learners. One of the students told Karibu! that on their first day back at school, they “were sanitised four times before we would enter classrooms.” Another student however had a different experience; “I had not been sanitised more than two times, as there was no sanitiser by the gate at the time of my arrival”. They added that they had received pap and milk for lunch, and then “we each received two masks and were told we had to leave for home by 11am”. Before they left, the students also received tutorial material.

Since Karibu!’s visit to Tjhaba Tsatsi Primary School, the situation has taken a sour turn with the parents drawing up a petition to remove the school principal.

In another part of Gauteng at Katleho Secondary School; parents, two local media people and the Karibu! team were all denied access to view the readiness of the school. The only comment we could get from the principal was that we should “make arrangements with the local District before we can allow you to enter the school premises”.

Since the schools re-opened at the beginning of June, 85 schools have been monitored. On 23 June, the Department of Education released a gazette that prevented monitors from entering schools, and monitors were advised to check the government website for updates on schools readiness and obtain permits from DBE to enter schools. This is a big concern as it means the Department will monitor itself and cannot be held accountable.

This submission was originally submitted on 10 June 2020 and was later updated by the Karibu Team.You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (, and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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