Govt playing Russian roulette with lives - Parents, teachers on school reopening

Eyewitness News readers shared their views on the matter, with the overwhelming majority not in support of the move.

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JOHANNESBURG - Parents and teachers from around the country have expressed a range of emotions in response to the announcement by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga that schools will indeed reopen on 1 June, starting with grades seven and 12.

Many have expressed concern over the possibility of their children being infected with the coronavirus, social distancing in classrooms and other possible scenarios they may be met with when it is time to go back.

Eyewitness News readers shared their views on the matter, with the overwhelming majority not in support of the move.

Read what some of them had to say.

I'm concerned about the transportation of learners. There is no information pertaining to private transportation of learners e.g fumigation and the number of learners in a taxi /car." Betty Mbele, Gauteng. "My daughter is in grade 12 and is one of the fortunate ones who study via Google Classroom. We live in the Western Cape which currently has the most COVID-19 infections. I don't think our children should return to to school on 1 June. The government is playing Russian roulette with our children and the teacher's lives. I think schools should only reopen on level 2.

Antonette, Western Cape

I am a primary school teacher. I have worked harder during lockdown than the first term. You are in class 24 hours a day. I even got a phone call at 22:30 on Good Friday! I would love to go back to school, however there is no guidance from the department. Comorbidities have not been defined. What we will happen to those educators which have them? The department has to build confidence in their decisions. They are not giving confidence either to there stakeholders! They have just released a video saying that stationery is to be shared. In a typical day at school you have at least 4 to 6 children without their stationery. What are teachers to do? Do we have to buy extra stationery for those pupils? Too many questions have not been answered.

Gregory Devereux, Gauteng

I'm a concerned parent. With full knowledge of learners right to education, in my view, the right to life supercedes any other right our government can think of. With the increase of virus infections day-by-day and death tolls increasing day-by-day, government cannot risk taking learners back to school. Yes, other countries may do that, as they are well resourced, South Africa is not well resourced." Onke Mbele, Gauteng. "I have cancer. Do I send my grade seven and grade six children to school? How do I deal with this? Do I withdraw my child from the school year? Do I homeschool them? Can I make arrangements with the school for them to continue school via the Internet as they are currently? Many questions. Where do I go for answers?

Annette Govender, KwaZulu-Natal

My concern is for our colleagues and leaners on chronic medication, those who are pregnant (teachers and learners) and elderly teachers as to whether they should go back to work.

Mmutloane Goitse, Free State

At last, our Ministry of Basic Education is making the correct noises! They as a department climbed up a ladder by closing schools, and are desperately looking for advice to climb down this ladder. At least now they are slowly heading down! Kids need school and we continued to pay all our school fees for our daughter in grade eight, including her boarding school fees. We have absolutely no hassle sending them back, as our country needs to be saved - what is left of it in any case - and the only way of achieving that is to slowly but surely return to the new normal.

Jakobus Van Der Poel, Western Cape

Can the parents first go to schools to assess if all that they are saying is done before the kids go to school?

Zikhona Sigenu, Eastern Cape

My daughter is auto-immune. She has been battling Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of two. She has been on immune suppressants for years at a time and is currently in remission. There is no way I will be sending my children back to school anytime soon as the risks are too high for them. She is in grade eight, my son is seven in grade one and they do not fully understand the severity of it.

Tammy Amaral

I am an educator and believe me, we are nowhere near ready to go back to schools. I am in Gauteng and our school is yet to receive any PPE from the DBE or GDE. We as educators fear for our safety as well as the safety of our learners. I agree with SADTU that we need at least two month's before we are ready to open. I cannot stress how concerned my fellow colleagues are about returning.

Naeem Haffejee, Gauteng

I absolutely don't want my kids to go back to school. Especially even government is predicting worse is yet to come with regards to the infection rate from July onwards. Then why send kids back to school? I have three kids ages 9, 15 and 16. One has asthma. So I can apply for him to stay home as he is high risk. But the other two can get the virus and still infect their brother when they go to school and return home. This doesn't make sense. I know academics are of utmost importance for our children, but my children's lives are far more important. All children can learn basic schooling skills during and after the pandemic. It's not worth my children's' lives.

Larisa De Swardt, Free State

I am a 64-year-old teacher from the Western Cape who is wondering when the Minister of 'Procrastination and Uncertainty' is going to tell us what the policy is regarding older teachers. I am an experienced technology integrator and was an early adopter. I have been successfully teaching online remotely for the past two months and hope that I can continue this method.

Jane MacKenzie-Hoskyn, Western Cape

I'm a concerned parent in Albertina, Johannesburg. The issue of opening schools anytime soon shouldn't even be a debate in anyway. If indeed schools are opened "soon" we risk witnessing a grave disaster of all time. How do we expect kids to maintain social/physical distancing? How do we expect them to stick to strict measures like wearing a mask all day? I swear some of the elderly people/parents and guardians are failing to adhere to these measures. What more about our nine-year-olds? I hope the authorities, including government, will be sensible enough not to risk the lives of our future leaders. The debate about opening schools mustn't be entertained at all, especially when the number of infections is soaring every day.

Thusanang Jnr Dube, Gauteng

I am a principal of a primary school in Mitchell's Plain in the Western Cape. many learners come from homes where people suffer from TB, HIV Aids, other lung diseases due to high consumption of drugs and most learners are exposed to extremely poor hygiene conditions due to overcrowding and many being part of back dwelling accommodation. Should these children get infected and spread the virus to their vulnerable family members we will be faced with more children having to find foster care. They currently live as if there is no lockdown so how are we going to reverse those patterns in school? We cannot find substitute teachers under normal circumstances so I wonder where the Education departments are going to find substitutes for all the teachers with comorbidities. Let alone normal absenteeism of staff.

Arthur Franklin Abrahams, Western Cape

My husband and I will not be sending our 11-year-old child who is in grade six to school in June. She goes to school in Bellville and teachers informed my child via a video call that they will still share a desk with a screen between them. That is not good enough to protect my child from the virus. The Minister of Basic Education has not addressed all the issues and concerns of parents and cannot guarantee that our kids will not contract the virus. We must send our kids to school but the Parliament is closed and we are not allowed to have church gatherings.

Karen Balie, Western Cape