No back to school: Sadtu and WC, KZN education depts tell staff to stay home

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The South African Democratic Teachers' Union (Sadtu) has told its members not to report for duty on Monday until the minimum requirements set out by the education department to ensure safety at schools on Level 4 of the Covid-19 lockdown are met.

"We call on our members who were to travel from various provinces to remain safe in their homes until the amendment of the regulations by the competent authority as requested by teacher unions. Our members and workers cannot be subjected to this emotional torture caused by lack of communication by the Department," Sadtu secretariat officer Xolani Fakude said in a statement.

School management teams (SMT) were meant to return to schools from Monday, 11 May to prepare for pupils' phasing in, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga announced two weeks ago.

READ: Plan to phase in pupils from June only a proposal for now - Motshekga

Fakude said that Motshekga had promised non-negotiables would be delivered to schools before it opened.

"These non-negotiables included, among others, the fumigation and disinfection of schools, proper school infrastructure in the form of proper toilet facilities, observance of social distancing inside the classrooms and in court yards, reduction of class sizes, provision of soap, sanitisers and masks, screening of learners, teachers and support personnel, social distancing in the transportation of learners to and from schools, provision of psychosocial services to assist learners as well as teachers to build resilience and calm down fears among learners and teachers," Fakude said.

He added that personal protective equipment (PPE) had still not been procured for office-based personnel, school-based educators and education support personnel.

"The disinfecting of schools and offices has not even reached 25%. It is unlawful to expect workers to report for duty when their safety is not guaranteed.

"Sadtu has an obligation to advise her members not to put their safety and that of their families and communities in danger by reporting for duty before these safety precautions are in place."

READ: Coronavirus: WC education dept directs principals, management to hold back from returning on Monday

The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has also advised principals and SMT to wait a few more days before returning this week.

In a letter from the WCED to public school principals and SMT, which News24 has seen, the department has advised that principals and staff hold back as it waits for direction from Motshekga on the national situation on preparations.

The department said it had been made aware that not all provinces were ready to return on Monday.

KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Kwazi Mshengu said on Monday that the province has opted for teachers not to return.

"We have done this in order to allow for the space for the deep cleaning and sanitisation of our schools, which is part of the non-negotiables agreed by all stakeholders in the sector. This does not mean that the province of KwaZulu-Natal will not be ready for the return of learners on 1st of June. We prioritise at all times the safety of the learners as well as the educators."

He added that the demand for PPE has meant that the province had not been able to get stock at the required time.

Earlier, TimesLive reported that the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and an education district in Mpumalanga had indicated they were not ready for staff to return.

Basic education department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga confirmed to News24 that Motshekga would be meeting the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) on Monday, as well as teacher unions and School Governing Body (SGB) associations to consider various reports on the state of readiness for schools to reopen.

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