SEKHUKHUNE – Schools in the country reopened their doors for Grades 7 and 12 learners after they had been closed for about three months since March this year when the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic became rampant.
Late last month, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, announced that the schools would reopen on June 01 but it was not the case as teachers’ unions and various pro-education bodies stood against the decision, as they cited that the schools were not ready for both educators and learners amid the high rate of COVID-19 infections.
Many of the schools, especially those in rural areas, battled lack of access to water, faced overcrowding and Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) had not been delivered with no fumigation done in most at the time.
Minister Motshekga postponed the phased reopening of schools for Grades 7 and 12 learners to Monday, 08 June 2020 to give time to address some of the challenges faced by the schools to be able to provide maximized safety for them and prevent the spread of the virus.
The paper spoke to people in Sekhukhune district to hear their views on the reopening of the schools on 08 June.
Sello Matsepe said it was with great sadness that the department was moving at the speed of light to reopen public schools.
“South Africa needs to take a step back and refrain from copying Asian countries in their approach to COVID-19 response on reopening schools. Most schools are still waiting for water storage tanks and water supply. In Tafelkop, disinfecting services are offered by volunteers and SGB members without being given any induction with regard to COVID-19,” said Matsepe.
Nomsa Chingowe said government was very clear that those who do not want their children to go to school must consider the home-schooling option.
“It is very frustrating to meet the same kids we are trying to protect at the malls and streets without safety measures. The department must make sure that the schools meet safety measures,” said Chingowe.
Vusi Mabena said it was a good idea for the department to reopen schools for the learners but it needed to ensure that all would be safe.
Nomshado Nkabinde, also from Dennilton, said she would be happy as a parent if the safety of the learners would become a priority of the department.
Simon Makua said the issue of reopening of schools during COVID-19 was a contentious one, with governments struggling to strike the balance between saving the academic year while protecting children from unnecessary exposure to the Coronavirus.
“I fully support government’s decision to reopen schools. Kids in rural areas play all over the streets disregarding lockdown regulations. To stop them from contracting the virus, they need to go back to school,” said Makua.
Dalom Rakgetse said the current academic year ought to be scrapped so that the department could attend to all major problems facing schools, especially sanitation issues.