COVID-19: Natu and SAHRC to conduct survey on teachers' concerns

Grades 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 will be able to return to classes from Monday.

Picture: @ECDOEZA/Twitter.

DURBAN - The National Teachers Union (Natu) on Tuesday said it had partnered with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to conduct a survey of teachers’ concerns ahead of the return of more learners to schools next week.

Grades 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 will be able to return to classes from Monday.

Natu said the partnership with the human rights commission came after they received several complaints that some teachers were not being properly screened at schools.

Natu president Alan Thompson said they had received a high number of concerning reports since grade 7 and matric pupils returned to schools earlier this month.

“Some of the thermal detectors that have been given to some of our teachers give different readings. So, there are instances of no screening properly and schools not shutting down when someone has tested positive.”

Thompson said together with the SAHRC, they started collecting data from teachers on Monday and plan to present the findings to Education Minister Angie Motshekga this coming Friday.

“The department has no option but to listen because it will be evidence-based kind of information.”

Thompson said they doubted that the Department of Education would be ready to welcome additional pupils on Monday because it had not recruited additional teachers to cater for smaller class numbers.

Meanwhile, there's been an increase in incidents of community members and civil groups storming into classes to air their views about the reopening of schools.

In the most recent case, 13 people were arrested in Mpumalanga over the weekend for allegedly forcefully removing pupils from schools fearing they would contract COVID-19.

Thompson said while he understood the concerns faced by many parents, disrupting teaching would only put the burden on pupils.

“As much as we understand their plight, we need constructive ways of raising our concerns because we are shooting the messenger when we go to schools and disrupt. We are continuing to inconvenience learners when teachers are sacrificing their lives.”

The South African Democratic Teachers Union’s Mugwena Maluleke said the demonstrations were putting both educators and children at risk of contracting the virus.

“If the community wants to close schools, let them follow the correct procedures without endangering the rest of the people in the workplace. Let them ask the school governing body to take such a decision and communicate such a decision with the school governing body rather than budging into the school.”

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