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Not taking chances: Some parents refuse to return children to school

In less than two weeks, grade 7 and grade 12 pupils will go back to their classrooms but under tight rules.

FILE: One father said he trusted government's judgement that teachers would do everything possible to keep children safe. Picture: Pixabay.

JOHANNESBURG - Parents have responded with mixed reaction to government's decision to allow the first group of children to return to school from next month.

In less than two weeks, grade 7 and grade 12 pupils will go back to their classrooms but under tight rules.

Minister Angie Motshekga on Tuesday said no parent would be forced to send their child back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And some parents said they were not taking any chances. They want to keep their children at home for longer.

“We are just concerned because winter is one of the seasons where it very cold and children get flu,” one parent said on Wednesday.

But not everyone is opposed to the reopening of schools.

One father said he trusted government's judgement that teachers would do everything possible to keep children safe.

Other grades will return to school in phases as government closely monitors infection rates.

So far, there are no COVID-19 fatalities among children under the age of 18.

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

Motshekga said her department had relied heavily on medical and expert advice to inform its decision to reopen schools during the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

She has assured parents that her department is working to ensure all safety and health protocols are in place to protect pupils and teachers.

Motshekga said her department has been closely following international best practices guided by medical expertise when deciding to reopen schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The education minister urged parents to work with school officials to ensure pupils with pre-existing conditions are assisted.

“Parents must step up; they must declare what underlying problems their children have. If you know your child has asthma, you must declare.”

Motshekga said they were also working with the transport department to ensure safety protocols such as sanitizing, distancing, and the wearing of masks - at all times.

WESTERN CAPE PUPILS

At the same time, the Western Cape remains the coronavirus epicentre in the country. And many parents may feel apprehensive about sending their kids back to school.

Provincial Education MEC Debbie Schafer on Wednesday said that her department was working hard to prepare schools.

“We have been working towards 1 June since the national minister announced the proposal a few weeks ago. So, it’s not like everybody has to be ready on day one for the entire school, which does help,” Schafer said.

Schafer said that while she understood the fears of parents, schools needed to reopen.

“There is a lot of fear and anxiety and that’s completely understandable. We have to balance all the factors and that’s what I think the national minister has done,” she said.

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