Gauteng principals declare schools ready after receiving PPEs

Principal Isaac Thloloe and his team at East Bank High in Alexandra. / Thulani Mbele
Principal Isaac Thloloe and his team at East Bank High in Alexandra. / Thulani Mbele

Schools in Gauteng have received personal protective equipment (PPE) and they are now gearing up to welcome grade 7 and 12 learners on Monday.

On Monday, teachers and principals returned to schools for the first time after more than two months to prepare for the reopening of schools and also received safety material such PPE from the provincial department.

Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi visited some schools to check the preparations ahead of the reopening on Monday.

At Bryanston High School, in northern Johannesburg, the staff came out in numbers to prepare for the reopening of schools following the announcement by basic education minister Angie Motshekga for them to return to work to prepare for the reopening of schools on June 1.

The principal, John Skelton said his school was ready and confirmed that they had received all the safety material.

"About two weeks back, we had a company that came to clean and disinfect our classes. Safety and security is the most important for us and we are ready to welcome our Grade 12 pupils," he said.

East Bank High School principal Isaac Thloloe said they had received sanitisers, masks and two temperature screening devices. In other schools in the area, the school management teams were locked in meetings.

But Lesufi raised concerns about the issue of business people who were blocking the delivery of personal protective equipment, saying Tshwane south and north were the hardest hit.

"We have 103 schools that were supposed to receive PPE material but 65 have not received it. We are finding ourselves caught in between people who believe we have given a contract to Bidvest company and we have explained to them that Bidvest is only donating the PPE material, they have not won a tender," Lesufi said.

"We are ready to welcome our teachers and pupils back to schools. Because we had a lot of incidents of violence and break-ins at our schools, we have put out a plan. We hope that by Friday all our teachers will be back at schools.

"There are other teacher unions encouraging their members not to report back to work. We are dealing with the issue of PPEs. We deliver the safety material first and there-after teachers can report back to work."

Lesufi said teachers who are not fit and ready to start were given forms to fill so that the department can replace them.

"We are putting additional cleaners on stand-by as we don't want the gap where someone will say they are sick and cannot come to work. The safety of our learners and staff members is important to us."

Lesufi said he was aware that some parents were worried about their children and in Gauteng they were not only dealing with class contact but were making the home-schooling system available to every child and parent.

"The online and e-Learning system will be available. There must be no parent that must declare that they should rather have their child repeating a grade because they fear for their children's safety," he said.

Meanwhile, schools are now being targeted for the PPEs meant for pupils and teachers. Since Saturday, three schools have been broken into and had their PPEs stolen by criminals in Gauteng and KZN.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona said thugs broke into Sikhulisile Primary School twice and thugs stole all the PPEs.

"We are preparing for the re-opening of schools and such incidents will derail us from doing so," Mabona said.

On Saturday, KZN education MEC Kwazi Mshengu also wrote on Twitter that two of their schools were broken into and the equipment was stolen.

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