A DECISION on whether schools will remain open or closed will be made in due course, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga told the National Council of Provinces during her department’s adjusted budget vote speech for the 2020-2021 financial year.
“We have tabled our consolidated report from the broad consultations to the Inter-Ministerial Disaster Management Committee, the National COVID-19 Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet. We will soon announce the decisions and directives of the Cabinet on whether schools should remain opened or closed,” said Motshekga.
She told the NCOP that there are divergent views on whether schools should remain open or closed.
“There are parents and there are learners who have written to me and the department saying that we should keep the schools open. There are also very strong and loud voices for schools to be closed,” said Motshekga.
Teacher unions have met with Motshekga to present their plans on the operation of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said it expects a response from the government soon.
The unions are concerned about teachers and school staff infections.
The union leaders are using a study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) which said where there is a peak in local transmissions, schools must be closed.
Motshekga, however, argued that there that it must also be stated that there is an acceptance that schools are safe havens, particularly for the learners, from a variety of challenges.
“These include, but limited to widening disparity in educational attainments, limited access to meals, domestic violence aggravated by economic uncertainties, drug abuse and teenage pregnancies,” said Motshekga.
(Compiled by Inside Education staff)