Schools need further consultation
We welcome that schooling will resume next month in a phased approach, with grade 12s being one of the two classes to return first. Matriculants have a lot of work to catch up on, so the sooner they start the better.
The plan to reopen schools was presented by department of basic education officials to MPs yesterday, who said it was not yet finalised as it was still going to be tabled before the National Command Council for approval.
The current plan will ideally see pupils and teachers wearing masks all the time, being screened for temperature and if they present high temperature they will be isolated and tested for Covid-19.
They will be required to sanitise their hands when entering school premises and classrooms, and the department has also committed to work with department of transport to ensure scholar transport is sanitised prior to each trip.
The measures go further to say no more than two pupils will share a desk and classes will not have more than 40 children. No sports or mass gatherings would be allowed and movements of pupils between classes would be restricted.
We are pleased that the department is putting the safety of pupils and educators first, but we believe 40 children in one classroom is still too high. Schools' classrooms are generally small and in SA when parents complain about overcrowding it is usually from 35 pupils in a class upwards. We understand the plan is not final, but call on the department to consult further in this regard and get more medical experts involved to ensure that Covid-19 will not find breeding ground in our classrooms.
In the plan, the department also committed to provide psychology and mental health support to schools using their own resources and assistance from the department of social development.
We welcome this development as teachers and parents are anxious about their safety and that of pupils. They also mentioned that the department would support home schooling for pupils with underlying diseases because they are more at risk should they contract the virus.
However, we think this option should be open to any parent who can afford it as some might be uncomfortable to send their kids back to school even if they do not fall under this group.
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