Teacher unions want school management teams to return a day later

Teacher unions want school management teams to return a day later than scheduled.
Teacher unions want school management teams to return a day later than scheduled.
Image: 123RF/paylessimages

The country's five teacher unions have asked the department of basic education to allow school management teams (SMTs) to report for duty a day later than the date proposed by minister Angie Motshekga.

In a joint statement, the unions said that members of SMTs should be asked to only return on May 12 after essentials to protect against Covid-19 such as masks, sanitisers and temperature screeners were delivered to schools. Motshekga had proposed that SMTs return on May 11.

Officials from education district and circuit offices were also requested not to ask principals to return before May 11.

''The principals will receive the masks on May 11 after principals have been screened by the health officials at the schools. They [principals] must also find all sanitisers installed.''

The unions said that the work of the SMTs is to plan the timetables and ''how to receive the teachers and support staff''. 

''It’s not the duty of the SMTs to supervise infrastructure or the fixing of schools or install sanitisers or deep cleanse the schools. That is the work of public works or the infrastructure unit of the department.''

Members of SMTs would have to tick the list of the completed work and determine if the teachers and support personnel can return to work.

The unions were planning to request an urgent meeting with Motshekga ''to understand the reopening of district and circuit offices, and the required number of staff''.

These officials were expected to report for duty on Monday.

''Our provincial secretaries will also request urgent meetings with the MECs and heads of departments in provinces to monitor the plan by the minister and further provincial plans.''

The unions wanted these meetings to take place before May 6 and 10.

''We shall request a final meeting with the minister to tick the box of all the non-negotiables. If there is no progress, the minister will be required, in the interest of transparency, to address the nation about the reasons and how the challenges are being addressed.

''The unions shall request the minister regulate or reduce her presentation into a circular with all the details to assist the circuit, districts and head offices on the one-third of the workforce that may return to work, as required under Alert Level 4.''

They said that all employees must be provided with personal protective equipment and that the offices must also be ''deep cleansed''.

According to the statement, the unions were going to request the minister also detail in the regulations, or a circular, how to deal with special schools, preschools, employees with pre-existing conditions, the elderly and all aspects of comorbidity.

'' The regulations should also address the issues of pregnancies.''

The unions said that the regulations should also address how combined schools should be treated if both grades 7 and 12 report on the same day at school.

''They must further provide clarity on the boarding schools as it relates to hostels. All these things are critical to avoid any loss of life.''

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