SOUTH Africa’s Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s plans to get teachers back to school on Monday have been thrown into disarray after a provincial education department and a teachers’ union asked educators not to return.
In a circular dated May 22, Mpumalanga education department’s acting head of education, Jabulani Nkosi, said teachers “must only report to schools at a date still to be confirmed by the department”.
The department wanted to make sure that personal protective equipment (PPEs) were delivered before educators and support staff return.
“The department is working round-the-clock to ensure that deliveries are undertaken in keeping with the rules and regulations of Covid-19. For now stay at home and stay safe,” Nkosi informed teachers.
Meanwhile, Free State teachers will only be returning to school on Thursday it emerged after a meeting between the provincial education department and the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa).
The SA Democratic Teachers’ Union’s secretariats in Gauteng, Northern Cape and North West have advised its members not to come to school until all the Covid-19 precautionary measures have been implemented.
Sadtu’s secretariat in Gauteng said the delivery of PPEs for school management teams in Tshwane West and South has not been completed.
Sadtu’s secretariat in the Northern Cape said that the last assessment report presented to the unions “clearly indicated that the provincial education department was not ready to open schools on Monday”.
The Sadtu secretariat in North West said that up to Thursday 1,410 of the 1,621 schools had not been cleaned and disinfected.
It quoted the example of a school with 37 staff members which received only eight masks.
The Sadtu secretariat said that screeners had not yet been appointed at the province’s schools and that some did not have running water.
Meanwhile, Naptosa in KwaZulu-Natal said that the delivery of PPEs, including thermal scanners and cleaning material, has been “a complete disaster”.
“At this stage it is safe to say not all schools will have these items delivered by May 25.”
A report compiled by a team monitoring the delivery of PPEs in KwaZulu-Natal’s Umgungundlovu district paints a very bleak picture.
The district was expecting 1,470 infrared thermometers, 13,387 bars of soap and 20,845 bottles of sanitiser but none have yet been delivered.
“School readiness stands at 10%. Teachers return on Monday but they don’t have temperature devices and masks.”
According to the report, only 30 of the 487 schools in the district have been deep cleaned.
The North West education department asked governing bodies and principals to identify people for a “once-off cleaning” of the school.
The department will pay R8,000 to schools with more than 700 pupils and R5,000 to those having fewer than 700 pupils.
Cleaners will be paid R160 a day and will also be given food.
The five teacher unions are meeting the basic education department on Saturday afternoon to get a report on the state of readiness for the reopening of schools.