President Cyril Ramaphosa has moved to reassure parents, teachers and school governing bodies that the government is serious about addressing their concerns with regard to the reopening of schools.
In his weekly newsletter to the nation on Monday, Ramaphosa said the health of learners is “not negotiable,” adding that the government has been “hard at work putting the necessary health and safety measures in place.”
He said, “As parents, teachers, governing bodies and government, we are in agreement that no school should reopen until all the necessary precautions are in place.”
Minister postpones reopening
On Friday, the SA Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU), National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (NAPTOSA), SAOU, Professional Educators Union (PEU), National Teachers’ Union (NATU), Federation of School Governing Bodies of SA, National Association of School Governing Bodies and the Governing Body Foundation insisted that schools were not yet ready for reopening.
They called on Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to “retract her announcement in this regard and delay any further announcement to give the system more time to ready itself for a common reopening, because if not, we will see a haphazard reopening situation.”
On Sunday, the Department of Basic Education announced that only teachers, school management teams and non-teaching staff should return to school on Monday to prepare for grade 7 and 12 learners, who should now return on 8 June.
The Department acknowledged that “a substantial number of schools would not be ready for reopening tomorrow [Monday, 1 June], albeit tremendous progress had been made by most provinces, which overall reflected 80 percent state of readiness.”
In his newsletter, Ramaphosa called for transparency about the state of preparedness of each school around the country.
He said, “Everyone who is a key role player, be they a parent, a school governing body member, a teacher or a government official should be able to have the correct information about the state of preparedness of each school. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the learning environment is safe.
“As parents, you have entrusted us with the welfare and safety of your children. It is a responsibility we do not take lightly. In the days and weeks to come, we will be closely monitoring the return to school.
“Ultimately it is both our personal actions and our collective efforts that will keep our children safe. Whatever we do next, we need to do together.”
Meanwhile, Motshekga announced that she would hold a media briefing on Monday at 11h00 in Rustenburg, North West, to provide a school update.
This comes after she postponed another media briefing she had called for Sunday evening.