ATM’s ANXIETY ON REOPENING OF SCHOOLS

The African Transformation Movement (ATM) has noted the presentation by the Department of Basic Education to reopen the schooling term for priority grades 7 and 12 for the first phase of the reopening of the schooling term with great concern. Although this presentation by the Ministry gives leeway in the phasing in of the process of learning and teaching, it lacks adequate planning that informs the decision that was presented by the Minister and her team. It is unbecoming that learners are forced to return to schools, whereas Parliamentarians continue to meet virtually, and the parents of these children remain under lockdown restrictions enforced by the state, thus unable to economically sustain the day to day needs of these learners. The opening of the schools unfortunately exposes infrastructure limitations in public schools where overcrowding is the order of the day, lack of sanitation and clean running water for the continued observation of lockdown regulations is impossible. It therefore, is not secret that the irreconcilable differences and evident gaps between private and public schools will potentially escalate the increase of uncontrolled spreading of the virus.

 Noting that South Africa will soon move to level 3 of the lockdown, the reopening of schools will be a trigger of a chain reaction in many activities that will accelerate the spread of the coronavirus: 1. Mass transportation for the children will be required, therefore, the transport industry will be forced to operate at full capacity. It should be noted that the transport industry is a huge risk for the transmission of the virus; 2. The retail industry will be forced to operate at full capacity because of the increased demand that will arise to keep the learners provided for in all aspects ATM is of the view that preventative measures should always be applied in cases and instances where they can be, and that the schools may be opened, provided that: 1. Due to having excess classrooms, the learners must be dispersed across the classes in ratios of 1:20 (1 classroom for 20 learners); 2. Masks and sanitizers are given to schools; 3. Daily screening of all learners and teachers must be conducted. The appointment of an independent body to audit and monitor the rollout of this process in an unnecessary budget line item which could easily be redirected towards the many evident Website: www.atmovement.org Email: communications@atmovement.org Facebook: African Transformation Movement (ATM) Twitter: @ATMovement_SA shortages in the procurement of PPE and other necessary equipment to satisfy many health concerns. We find it strange that the Department of Correctional Services is releasing 19 000 prisoners in order to control the widespread of the virus, the majority of economic sectors remain closed off from operations, yet the most vulnerable group of the population is ordered to return back to schools. Unless the Department of Basic Education can give sound guaranteed that stringent oversight will be applied in the reopening of the schools, we openly do not support any of the tabled strategies by the Department of Basic Education because they are impractical and are a recipe for disaster.

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