GAUTENG Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi has issued an ultimatum to both public and top private schools, saying they should refrain from opening their classrooms until February 15.
This follows last week’s decision by the Department of Basic Education to delay reopening of schools by another two weeks due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Until recently, it was believed globally that children were by and large mildly affected by COVID-19 and that their role in the transmission was limited. But now, that perception is changing with new emerging research – conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – proving the point that children did indeed contract the virus and transmit it to others.
Lesufi was speaking during a school visit to Helpmekaar College in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Monday after the school sent newsletters to parents in the last few days, informing them that 1 200 boys must return to school despite government’s decision to delay reopening of schools by another two weeks.
“No school should be allowed to operate in Gauteng until February 15. Any other school, public, private or independent that is operating in Gauteng, are in defiance of the State. We will persuade them to a certain limit. If not, we will act and we will do it within the confines of the law,” said Lesufi.
Lesufi visited the school to find out why it was letting learners return after government instructed schools not to reopen until February due to growing concerns over the increasing COVID-19 infections.
“This decision to delay the reopening of schools by two weeks needs to be gazetted so that we have a leg to stand on,” Lesufi added.
Lesufi said his department expected all schools to be closed until February 15.
Department of Basic Education announced on Monday that learners will only return to school on February 15 while staff will return on February 1 and School Management Teams (SMT) on January 25.
“The people who advised us to close are now complaining but the fact of the matter is that we listened to health officials when making such decisions,” said Lesufi.
Commenting on the COVID-19 vaccines, Lesufi said school children needed to be prioritized as well.
“I really believe we must protect the future and give the vaccine to the children. In the list of people who will be vaccinated, include the children. They are our future,” said Lesufi.
(SOURCE: INSIDE EDUCATION)