Unions plead for teachers to be vaccinated ahead of daily classes for primary school pupils

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Grade 12 learners practising social distancing while waiting to be screened. (Cebelihle Mthethwa,News24)
Grade 12 learners practising social distancing while waiting to be screened. (Cebelihle Mthethwa,News24)
  • Naptosa said it would consult with the Department of Basic Education to put teachers second in line for Covid-19 vaccines as pupils return to school.
  • On Saturday, the department announced that primary school pupils would return on 26 July. 
  • SADTU said it would monitor the situation closely, especially with a third wave looming.

The National Professional Teachers' Organisation of SA (Naptosa) says it will consult with the Department of Basic Education to put teachers second in line for Covid-19 vaccines.

This follows an announcement made by the department on Saturday that primary school pupils would return on 26 July.

According to Naptosa's executive director, Basil Manuel, it welcomed the decision made by the department because it, along with other unions, was part of the consultation process.

However, he said the union was concerned about the safety of teachers as schools would return to full capacity.

"We are concerned about the mental health of the teachers as 100% capacity causes panic in people during the time of the pandemic.

"We want to consult with the department that teachers should be next in the line following those aged 60 and above to get vaccinated for Covid-19."

Manuel added the union was not planning on "jumping the line" as people aged 60 and above were the priority, saying teachers should be given first preference, especially with walk-ins.

The union said schools would not have enough time to prepare for all the pupils who returned on 26 July.

The SA Democratic Teacher's Union (SADTU) said it would monitor the situation closely, especially with a third wave looming.

"We are going to monitor the situation very closely from the side of the union to ensure that as we move towards the 26th of July all safety measures are taken care of," its spokesperson, Xolani Fakude, added.

An education lobbyist from the Parents for Equal Education SA, Vanessa le Roux, said government departments were not communicating with each other.

"While the health department warns us about the increase in Covid-19 infections and a third wave, the basic education department, in a sneaky way, opens primary schools to full capacity. 

"We want to know who has been consulted in this regard, what makes it safe to open primary schools to their full capacity while we see more and more learners being infected."

Le Roux added education officials should stop playing with the lives of people from the comfort of their own homes.


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