Call for local schools to close to bide time for safety solutions

There has been a major call from Plettenberg Bay learners and organisations not to rush the reopening of schools over fears around challenges to implement minimum safety requirements against Covid-19 - YOLANDÉ STANDER reports

AMONG those expressing their doubts about adequate safety measures in schools are local students, the ANC Youth League, and the Congress of South African Students. 

“We are concerned about the safety of the learners and teachers. On average there are 56 learners in a class, which makes social distancing near impossible.

“We believe that the schools are not ready to reopen in terms of measures to prevent the spread of the virus and learners are also not psychologically ready to return,” convenor of the initiative Sinovuyo Kitsi said.

She added that they had visited a majority of local schools on Monday to evaluate the readiness of these facilities, and found that most schools were not adequately prepared.

“Three local schools listened to our pleas and closed their doors for what we hope is a 14-day grace period so that we can find workable solutions.”

She said they found that some schools did not properly deal with positive Covid-19 cases and that there were teachers who tested positive who remained at school while they awaited their results.

“If there is any chance of someone having contracted the virus, they should immediately isolate and not be allowed on the school premises,” said Kitsi, adding that this was only one of many concerns.

“The issue around social distancing, where there is literally no space for learners to implement this, is another concern.”

She said they were not calling for schools to close indefinitely, but to delay the reopening for a while until solutions could be found to safely continue the academic year.

“Schools need to find innovative solutions and these could include online education or collaborations with other schools and organisations to ensure that learners can safely return to their desks.”

She added that they were currently in discussions with the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and other stakeholders to discuss a way forward.

Kitsi said that among the schools that decided to heed their warning were Murray High, Kwanokuthula Primary, and Plett Secondary.

“We are still in discussion with other schools and will, during the course of the week, visit all schools in Bitou,” she concluded.

Garden Route Media