Unions concerned about lack of PPEs as teachers prepare to go back to schools

According to unions, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo teachers have been hardest hit by the pandemic.

FILE: According to the unions KZN, the North West, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape are the least ready provinces in all categories for the start of the 2021 academic year. Picture: @ECDOEZA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - With teachers around the country expected to return to work on Monday for the start of the 2021 academic calendar, unions are concerned that too many schools still don't have personal protective equipment (PPEs) to welcome educators.

According to unions, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo teachers have been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Five teacher unions have conducted a school readiness survey nationally, which has found only 47% of schools are confident they can comply with COVID-19 protocols when schools reopen next month.

READ: Dept confirms reopening of schools postponed by two weeks

Teacher unions say some of their members, particularly in KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo, were sick with COVID-19 and would not be able to report to school on Monday.

Coupled with this, the unions have found that a number of schools are still not ready to welcome educators as the country battles a second wave of COVID-19.

The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa’s Basil Manual said: “There were schools that did not have PPEs to welcome the teachers back, even worse, they don’t have the PPEs for the children to come back.”

READ: Private schools are not breaking the law by reopening - Isasa

South African Democratic Teachers Union’s Mugwena Maluleke said he was worried about social distancing at schools given the rapid spread of the virus among young people.

“There are some schools that were already deciding to bring back all learners and that was going to cause serious problems.”

According to the unions KZN, the North West, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape are the least ready provinces in all categories for the start of the 2021 academic year.

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