DBE’s plan to reopen schools met with mixed reactions

Equal Education said most parents were not convinced their children would be safe.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga at a briefing on 19 May 2020 in Pretoria explains the department's plans to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG - There's mixed reaction to the Department of Basic Education’s plans to reopen schools.

On Wednesday, Equal Education said most parents were not convinced their children would be safe.

The organisation said the Basic Education Department was vague on the scientific data that informed its decision to reopen schools.

Equal Education's Tracey Malawana said: “How are they going to ensure that the psycho-social support that is needed will be available and learners can access such support when they need it when they go to school, especially for grade 12s who are expected to do great under this pandemic period.”

But the African National Congress-aligned Congress of South African Students (Cosas) said it supported the plans.

Cosas said this was based on the condition that pupils and teachers’ lives were not put at risk.

Congress convener Katleho Mangoejane said: “We believe that as a country we must bite the bullet and get ready for the academic [year to resume] and we hope that the department will implement what they promised. If they are not going to implement then call on our members to boycott schools.”

The National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said it was worried about the credibility of the advice that Motshekga relied on.

Naptosa's Basil Manual said the government's strategy left them with more questions than answers: “Let’s work towards 1 June but the reports are so embellished that it will be an embarrassment when we can't get our people back to school.”

WATCH: Grade 7 & 12 pupils can go back to school on 1 June

STRICT GUIDELINES IN PLACE

The Basic Education Department said there would be strict rules in place in case pupils contract COVID-19 after returning to school.

Basic education director general Mathanzima Mweli said they had been closely monitoring the readiness of schools in each province.

“We will be monitoring the delivery in terms of our plan and evaluating the state of readiness for each and every province, every week, and follow up until we move past the first phase of grade 7 and 12.”