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Unions, rights groups say schools lacking COVID-19 essentials should not reopen

On Monday, grade R, 6 and 11 pupils across the country returned to school after spending months at home under lockdown.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - Unions and rights groups in the education sector said that pupils and teachers at schools that lacked COVID-19 essentials should not return to the classroom.

On Monday, grade R, 6 and 11 pupils across the country returned to school after spending months at home under lockdown.

The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) and National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), as well as Equal Education, want government to first deal with problems at schools, saying they shouldn't be allowed to reopen in the middle of the pandemic until then.

The first phased-in return of grade 8 and matric pupils last month was met with criticism and concern due to the spread of COVID-19 at schools.

The Basic Education Department revealed that thousands of pupils and teachers contracted the virus during this period.

Sadtu on Monday said that it had recorded inefficiencies on the first day of school.

The union’s Nomusa Cembi said: "The challenges that were there, the challenges of water and ablution facilities were apparent in most of the schools, especially those in most rural provinces and townships."

Meanwhile, Equal Education’s Hopolang Selebalo said it was evident that support for learning from home was needed now more than ever.

"It is important to support learning at home and to adjust assessment expectations for the remainder of this year."

Naptosa said that it would continue to monitor how schools operated now that more children were back in class.

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