Parents of kids with illnesses worried

Minister Angie Motshekga.
Minister Angie Motshekga.
Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Parents of pupils with chronic illnesses are concerned that minister of basic education Angie Motshekga left their children in the dark.

Last week, Motshekga announced that the department was working towards the re-opening of schools, starting with grades 7s and 12s next month.

Motshekga said they had been advised to adopt a phased approach in the reopening of schools, uppermost in their planning is the health and safety of the school communities, particularly learners and teachers.

Motshekga only mentioned that the department was mindful of the needs of learners with disabilities and was working with provinces to ensure that special schools were adequately provided for in all the plans they had put together.

Some parents said they were concerned about the safety of their children as in Motshekga's speech there was no mention of pupils who suffer from chronic illnesses.

As President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week that the country was going to be on level 4 starting from Friday last week, he said those who are elderly and those with underlying conditions must remain at home and take additional precautions to isolate themselves.

A 38-year-old Cape Town woman, who is a guardian of a grade 6 teenage boy, said she was worried about his health.

"It is very worrying that our children have to go back to school with the corona pandemic still on the rise. Kids will always be kids; even if you can send him or her with 10 face masks and 10 sanitisers to school, that won't make any difference because when they want to take the face mask off they will do so and there is no guarantee that there will be no contact with others.

"I wish the department can delay the opening of schools until we are all sure that the virus has been contained," she said.

A 42-year-old father of a grade 10 pupil in Soweto said: "I am worried about my daughter, especially because she's asthmatic and she travels to school by a taxi. How do I guarantee her safety? I want her to go back to school but at the same time I don't want to jeopardise her life."

Department's spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the screening of learners and educators would be done at the reopening of schools.

"Learners with chronic illnesses will be able to catch up with the curriculum on different television channels and radio stations. This will continue into the future, we have even established a permanent education channel with SABC," Mhlanga said.

The SABC Education TV channel goes live today.

The channel is meant to benefit all grades and it will initially be available on YouTube and digital terrestrial television.

Group chief executive officer Madoda Mxakwe said the launch of the channel was timely as the nation required these interventions to fill gaps that have been created by Covid-19-related adjustments.

"In particular this initiative will ensure that education and learning continues outside the traditional classroom environment," Mxakwe said.

He said the core content would be broadcast in a customary linear manner while ancillary programming would stream via digital platforms.

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