Schools in South Africa are scheduled to reopen on 27 January 2021, but 53 percent of adults want them to remain closed until the COVID-19 situation improves.
This is according to the latest joint survey by the University of Johannesburg and Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) released on Wednesday.
South Africa is currently battling a second wave of the pandemic and has recorded more than 200,000 new COVID-19 cases since New Year’s Day. Around 5,000 people have also lost their lives this year so far.
The survey also found that 19 percent of adults believe schools should reopen for grade 7 and grade 12 learners only. 19 percent think they should reopen for all grades, while 9 percent said they “don’t know.”
10,618 adults participated in the online survey which was conducted between 30 December, 2020 and 6 January, 2021.
Professor Carin Runciman, UJ Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Change, said, “The findings from the survey show that the majority of adults oppose the reopening of schools while COVID-19 cases continue at their current high levels.
“This opposition is strongest amongst the most vulnerable and economically disadvantaged sections of society, who are less likely to have confidence in the ability of their schools to provide a safe environment for learners.
“These findings illustrate that although parents are deeply concerned about their children’s education that they are equally, if not more, concerned about the safety of their children, their families and communities.”
School reopening dates ‘to remain the same’
In July last year, the government postponed the reopening of schools amid rising COVID-19 infections across the country.
However, the Department of Education told News24 this week that school reopening dates will remain the same “for now.”
Head of department Mathanzima Mweli said, “Our risk-adjusted differentiated strategy indicated that schools wouldn’t be allowed to operate under alert level 5. At alert level 4 you allow for exit grades such as grade 12 and 7. At alert level 3 you would be able to bring in most of the grades.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that South Africa will remain under the adjusted alert level 3 until the second wave’s peak has passed.