Naptosa: Schools are best place for children during pandemic, but PPE needed

Naptosa’s Basil Manuel said seven of the country’s nine provinces failed dismally in providing PPE to schools.

A pupil receives a meal at Kgato Primary School in Bloemfontein. Picture: Department of Basic Education/Twitter

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG – The National Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) said the adequate provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) to schools remained a huge issue.

This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement, earlier this week, that public schools would take a break from Monday until 24 August - while the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matriculants will stay at home for only a week, while grade 7s will return to the classroom after a two-week-long break.

Naptosa’s Basil Manuel said seven of the country’s nine provinces failed dismally in providing PPE to schools.

“Remember when the first group of pupils returned, most provinces were up to speed, however, it was with the replenishment of PPE where the failures came in. This is a major issue.”

Manuel said Naptosa supports the view that children belong in the classroom.

“Often we quote experts and professor [Salim Abdool] Karim was clear, the best place for children is in schools. However, schools must be safe environments, they must practice social distancing and they must meet PPE requirements.”

This past week’s announcement comes after weeks of protests by teachers, parents and pupils, and calls from teachers' unions and school governing bodies, pressurising Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to close schools at least until after the COVID-19 peak was reached.

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