'They should only open schools when it's safe': Pressure mounts on DBE


102 days ago

CAPE TOWN - The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said it would wait patiently for an outcome on its calls for schools to close again.

Teachers and parents in various communities have been protesting over the past few weeks, calling for schools to close as infections increase.

Sadtu wants schools closed for a month to allow the peak COVID-19 infection time to pass.

The union’s Johnavin Rustin said they were in talks with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) on the options.

“This is a very difficult thing. We have been in discussions with a broad forum of community structures, teachers and principals to see how we can act in the best interest of teachers.”

Pupils in grades R, six, seven, 11, and 12 are officially back at school, but the national Basic Education Department made it clear from the start that parents could make the call to keep their children at home and home school them.

And according to Sadtu, many parents have taken that option.

Rustin said their data suggested a low pupil attendance rate at schools in the Western Cape especially.

COMMUNITY BACKS PRINCIPAL

Teachers, pupils and community members picketed outside the Heathfield High School in Cape Town on Monday in support of principal Wesley Neumann.

A letter was issued by the school's governing body earlier this month, urging parents to keep their children at home until after the peak of the pandemic, but after the letter was made public, it's been claimed Neumann is to face disciplinary action.

Mark Solomons, a former Heathfield High School pupil and member of the Retreat/Steenberg Civic Association, said opening schools ahead of the COVID-19 peak would put the lives of teachers and pupils at risk. He has backed action by the school’s principal.

“I am in support of the principal and what they stood up to. They should only open the schools when it’s safe for all our pupils and teachers.”

A representative of the association joined supporters who flanked the street outside Heathfield High School, brandishing placards reading, “Save Neumann” and “Hands Off Mr Neumann”.

They also called for what's left of the academic year to be suspended.

Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond, however, said there was no process under way to suspend or fire Neumann as suggested on social media. She said while this had been stated repeatedly, people continued to listen to fake news.

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This article first appeared on EWN : 'They should only open schools when it's safe': Pressure mounts on DBE

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