Western Cape teachers worry about schools re-opening

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Teacher and student in classroom with masks on (PHOTO: Ruslan Dashinsky/Getty Images)
Teacher and student in classroom with masks on (PHOTO: Ruslan Dashinsky/Getty Images)
Ruslan Dashinsky

Minister of basic education Angie Motshekga is set to address the nation on Thursday. This is to give clarity to the issue of schools re-opening while Covid-19 cases are climbing.

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It has been reported that Gauteng and the Western Cape are the only two provinces ready for pupils to return to school. The Western Cape is currently the province with the greatest number of people who’ve tested positive for Covid-19.

So, what does this mean for students and teachers? DRUM spoke to three Cape Town  teachers worried about the possibility of schools reopening while the nationwide lockdown continues.

Sokholwa Tyatyam

New Eisleben Secondary School

“I’m not against schools opening, I’m worried about the number of infected and the mortality rate increase. We have an abnormal number of learners and there will be a shortage of teachers. We do not have adequate facilities to accommodate all learners.

“I think the minister will postpone the opening date based on the fact that most provinces aren’t ready. I feel that Grade 12 learners should open by the 1st of July and not close until the final exams. Other grades should open in August and write their final exams in November.

Tracey Hopton

Norman Henshilwood High School

“I believe the state of readiness of any school or province is far too early to state as fact. There are a number of contextual factors that needs specific planning and resources implemented. Every school has its own set of challenges and a lot of planning is necessary before any learner returns to classes. I am worried that certain provinces may be jumping to readiness prematurely instead of working in collaboration with the department and making sure things are as safe for staff and learners as possible.

“I hope assessments have standardised support measures in place so no learner is disadvantaged. I hope schools are planning for emotional support measures for staff and learners, that they’re not only worried about pushing academic content.”

 

Mogamad Ismail

Phakama Secondary School

“My concern as an educator in the Western Cape is that we are currently the epicentre of this pandemic and yet we are supposed to toe the line in terms of opening our schools with scant regard for this fact. The public will be led to believe that all schools are Covid-19 prepared when this will only be the case for one or two weeks. Schools will then struggle to get the necessary stock to sustain them for the rest of the year.

“In my opinion, Grade R to Grade 11 can make up for lost work in 2021 and all will be back on track for them. Grade 12 learners, however, should be our priority. Having only Grade 12 learners at the school wouldn’t be ideal but would give us a clear direction for the future, and the viability of it being possible to have normal teaching taking place in the future. This is especially in schools like ours which are already plagued by a myriad of socio-economic conundrums.”

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