Parents worried about safety of children and teachers as date set for schools to re-open


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Many parents are saying no to children going back to school until there are safety measures put in place for all learners, teachers, all other staff. Some parents say they would rather stay at home with their children than be sorry, they say they will not allow their children to go to school while the danger from such a killer disease as COVID-19 is still a threat. 

“[I] am not in a hurry. Italy is the example,” said Sannah Mokoena, a teacher at Early Child Care Centre in Carletonville, Gauteng told Karibu!, speaking of how several hundreds of people have been dying in Italy daily because of coronavirus. “The government closed schools when the numbers of the coronavirus infections were down in March, now the numbers are increasing rapidly and they want to reopen schools. It is not a good idea, it will be a reckless decision,” she added.

“Social distancing will be a challenge, as classes are overcrowded. The conditions of the toilets are very bad. Right now our schools are dirty,” she said. “And children with disabilities are not included in the COVID-19 plan by the Department of Education, they are very quiet about it,” said Mokoena. 


NATU (National Teachers Union) President, Allen Thompson said; “teachers are [not] ready to teach, until the Minister of Education, Minister Motshekga has met the following requirements: A disinfection of all schools must be completed and classes must be sanitised every day; the toilets will have to be cleaned daily but extra mobile toilets also provided.” The NATU leader also said “the government has to commit to an implementation of norms and standards; provide desks at all schools – urban and rural areas; strict adherence to social distancing within the schools at 1.5m between everyone, and each teacher tasked with only 20 learners.”

Thompson called for masks, sanitisers and personal protective equipment to be distributed, saying that government must provide mobile classrooms to all schools in the country. There has to be clean water provided while schools must “provide children with vital information on hand-washing and other measures to protect themselves and their families.”

Thompson highlighted the need to “facilitate mental health support and help prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about virus.” Thompson advised that no sharing of textbooks be tolerated. “The Department of Education must fix all infrastructures and address theft at school during lockdown. Schools should be deeply cleaned. There will have to be more teachers, safe scholar transport provided and a school nutrition programme added. All the procedures and protocols should be respected all the time.”

In Carletonville, disinfection of schools started with Carleton Jones High School on 7 May 2020, and the firefighters will reportedly continue doing this all over the West Rand District. 

This article was first submitted on 13 May 2020, and then later updated. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.

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