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Teacher Unions, Basic Education Butt Heads Over COVID-19 Protocols During Matric Exams

NYAKALLO TEFU

TEACHERS’ union SADTU has condemned the decision by the Department of Basic education and the Department of Health to allow learners who might have tested positive during exams to write in isolation but in the same schools or examination centres where other learners are writing.

SADTU argued on Monday that schools and exam centres were not quarantine sites.

The union said the decision by Department of Basic Education and the Department of Health was not in line with safety guidelines.

Over one million matrics are sitting for their final Grade 12 exams, which started last Thursday.

“The unfortunate and unilateral decision is in violation of the isolation protocols of the Department of Health which state that once tested positive, an individual must isolate. The isolation means not to move from an area to the other until the end of the prescribed duration,” SADTU said in a statement.

 Last week, Department of Basic Education announced that it would allow learners who might have tested positive during the writing of examinations to write in isolation but in the same schools or examination centres where other learners are writing.

On Monday, the teacher’s union called on the Department of Basic Education and Department of Health to convene an urgent meeting on what it claims is the unilateral decision that violates the isolation protocols during the writing of final exams.

“SADTU, as a stakeholder in education was not consulted about this decision which violates the COVID 19 Standard Operating Procedures. We therefore call upon the DBE and DOH to convene an urgent meeting to address this matter as it affects both external and internal examinations”, the teacher union said.

The union has also called on Department of Basic Education not to force teachers to invigilate in facilities where learners may have tested positive, but to use health professionals.

“We fully understand that isolation can increase anxiety levels amongst learners and we therefore call on the department to ensure the provision of psychosocial services and health facilities to these learners,” according to SADTU.

(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)

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