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CEM threatens legal action against anyone trying to disrupt schooling

The Council of Education Ministers (CEm) said that groups or individuals did not have the authority to close schools, adding that parents had options if they choose not to take their children back to school for now.

Protesters call for the closure of schools as COVID-19 infection increase. The protest took place in Retreat on 25 June 2020. Picture: Supplied

JOHANNESBURG - The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) said that it would be taking legal action against anyone who tried to disrupt schooling.

The country's largest teachers union, Sadtu, wants all schools to be shut until the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

However, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has held a special meeting with the Council of Education Ministers, where they condemned the call to keep pupils out of the classroom.

The Education Department said that it was extremely concerned that teachers, principals and other staff were using any platform to attack government for reopening the schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The department said that these critics were creating an impression that they should be treated differently from other public servants.

The Council of Education Ministers said that groups or individuals did not have the authority to close schools, adding that parents had options if they choose not to take their children back to school for now.

It said that schools that had been able to adhere to the health, safety and social distancing measures and were able to settle in additional pupils faster than what government permitted, for now, would be allowed to continue phasing in more grades.

This, however, would be strictly monitored by the committee on COVID-19, along with the departments of Health and Basic Education.

Meanwhile, a meeting to discuss school safety scheduled for today between education unions and Basic Education Minister Motshekga has been postponed without an explanation.

On Tuesday, the largest teachers union in the country, Sadtu, resolved at its national executive meeting that it would be calling on schools to close until South Africa had passed the peak of the coronavirus.

Unions wanted to use this morning's meeting to relay this message to the minister but in a short message, they've been told it won't be going ahead after all.

Naptosa's Basil Manuel said that government had not explained why.

"The meeting has now been postponed until a later date in time. I have no idea why it has been postponed, except what it says on the record there, that the minister is engaged with other consultations in the sector and so we wait because we still value the opportunity to have a discussion."

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