ANC MPs want teachers to be among the first to get COVID-19 vaccine

But when schools reopen in February and when the first vaccines arrive, the ANC wants teachers to be prioritised like other frontline workers.

FILE: A classroom at the Ga-Rankuwa Primary School, north of Pretoria, on 26 May 2020. Picture: @Lesufi/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN – The African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament wants teachers to be classified as frontline workers and be among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The ANC Basic Education Study Group has welcomed the decision by the Department of Basic Education to readjust the academic calendar year due the overwhelming increase in COVID-19 infections nationwide.

But when schools reopen in February and when the first vaccines arrive, the ANC wants teachers to be prioritised like other frontline workers.

The ANC’s basic education whip Nombuyiselo Adoons on Tuesday said: “You’ll recall that the majority of our educators could not go back to work because they had comorbidities and we fell they must also be prioritised. We know that priority will be given to South Africans with comorbidities.”

Adoons said Parliament’s basic education portfolio committee was expected to hold a special meeting with the Department of Basic Education on Wednesday to get an update on the reopening of schools.

Meanwhile, there's growing concern about how COVID-19 has affected teaching staff across the country.

In the Northern Cape, 18 teachers have died after contracting the coronavirus.

The province has recorded the lowest number of infections and deaths in the country, but officials have now raised the alarm over increases in some districts.

On Monday, provincial health bosses said differentiated timetables would be used for the phased return of learners to school.

They’re also checking infrastructure needs, such as ablution facilities, sufficient water supply and others, which are key to the health and safety of learners and teachers.

During an update on the province’s COVID-19 response on Monday, leaders were also briefed on the pandemic’s impact on the health sector.

Of the 1,444 health workers who’ve tested positive for the virus, 93% have recovered and 16 have died.

The province has 4,469 active COVID-19 cases, with areas such as Kimberley, Springbok, Upington, Calvinia and De Aar posing a huge concern to authorities.

Health MEC Maruping Lekwene will visit some of these locations to assess local health facilities’ response to the pandemic.

Officials said a “vaccine strategy” was in place to guide the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine in the province.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.