Back to school delay? Parents and teachers react

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"I can't help but worry about the kids who look like me and aren't privileged enough to be at a school that has the resources to go online." Photo: Getty Images
"I can't help but worry about the kids who look like me and aren't privileged enough to be at a school that has the resources to go online." Photo: Getty Images

A question that is top of mind right now is: When will schools go back? 

After many months of missed learning last year, parents like myself were hoping for a reprieve this year and a return normal school hours - who knew we'd miss the school run so much? 

The recent school closures threw many families in to disarray as boarders needed to be collected and alternative childcare arranged with only a few days notice.

President Ramaphosa let us know that school must close by 2 July, but that they would re-open for in-person learning on 19 July.

While these dates essentially only really made a difference to the school holiday calendar and so minimal learning would be missed, it now seems that schools may only be re-opening for remote learning on that date.

National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA executive director Basil Manuel told News24 that the signs and times of the virus' behaviour should influence how schools returned to operation. He said stakeholders can't blindly set a date and then hope and pray that it will work. 

SA Democratic Teachers' Union Nomsa Cembi said the union believed the spread of the virus should be monitored closely ahead of 19 July.

She told News24 "We would like to see schools open, and things are going back to normal, but [we] need to be careful. We are in Level 4, and so if it is still there and the pandemic is rising, it would be advisable not to open."

Read: Schools to close for third wave, but pre-schools may remain open

Parent24 asked parents and teachers for their thoughts on the possible further delay and feedback was divided.  

Indiphile Qabaka, a intermediate phase educator, said "Personally I'm OK with it cause we will go on online however I can't help but worry about the kids who look like me and aren't privileged enough to be at a school that has the resources to go online."

"A lot of them are already behind as it is so I can't imagine where they will start doing damage control," she added. 

"I get to rest"

"I feel fine with it," Johannesburg based assistant teacher Sinakekele Sosibo told us.

"Since I’m an assistant teacher I get a bit of rest. I can finish my assignments nicely. The only bad part is if kids don’t go to school, parents don’t always pay school fees. So this in turn might mess up the monthly salary I get." 

Nothemba Mhlaba told us that she is happy that schools are closed.

"It gives me piece of mind. My children went away for the holiday and I am enjoying being home alone and able to study online without having the pressure to attend lectures in person at university."  

"Makes learning difficult" 

Mom Phumelela Jacob shared that in her experience school closure makes learning difficult for children and parents.

"As parents we have to download some of the material or follow certain links with data we don't have. It becomes difficult for parents with no smartphones. At the same time I don't think it is safe for our kids to go back to school while we are still facing this third wave."  

Asanda Dubula, a mother of two, said "I am against and in support, in terms of physical attendance to schools because though there is a risk of spreading Covid I feel government could have done better to organise resources for online learning so the children don't have to go to school. I'm disappointed that we're still discussing learners going back to school physically." 

How do you feel about the possible delay in a return to in-person schooling this winter? 


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