Schools: Unions, SGB associations 'tentatively' support school reopening after progress report

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  • Five teachers' unions and four school governing body associations are satisfied with progress made on the reopening of schools.
  • In a consultation with the basic education department, they were told school readiness was at 94%.
  • They said their support was based on the understanding that schools that are not Covid-19 compliant will not reopen.

Teachers' unions as well as school governing body (SGB) associations say they support the call to reopen schools on Monday, following consultations with the Department of Basic Education and Minister Angie Motshekga over the weekend.

In a joint statement issued on Sunday, the five unions and four SGB associations said they were briefed on the progress made on Covid-19 protocol compliance in schools, with overall readiness said to be at 94%.

The unions include the SA Democratic Teachers' Union, National Professional Teachers' Association of SA, National Teachers' Union, Professional Educators' Union and SA Teachers' Union. The SGB associations are the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools, National Association of School Governing Bodies, the Governing Body Foundation and the SA National Association for Specialised Education.

"The unions and SGB associations consequently tentatively support the call to reopen schools on 8 June 2020 with the clear understanding that no school may open that is not Covid-19 compliant, as per directive of the minister and state president," the joint statement read.

However, it noted that three out of the nine provinces were still having trouble with deliveries of water tanks, which will prevent learning and teaching unless other arrangements are made.

"The unions and SGB associations cautiously welcome the progress.

"We are particularly thankful for the extent of [personal protective equipment] deliveries, the improvement in the number of completed water supply projects and the delivery and improvement of toilet facilities.

"This improvement came as a result of the constant emphasis by the unions and SGB associations that water and sanitation are the non-negotiables in the fight against the spread of the virus," they said.

Revised curriculum

They added that they would continue to monitor outstanding deliveries of necessities.

They also called on the minister to ensure that plans were in place for schools that are not Covid-19 compliant yet, to provide directions on the revised curriculum and new school calendar, as well as other outstanding matters.

"We, as a collective of the major stakeholders in education, remain committed to seeing that learning resumes in our schools but wish to caution against over-zealous 'recovery' plans that further traumatise our teacher and education support workers.

"We remind schools that only our matric classes are faced with catching up on work missed. We call on all our members to heed the call to return to school or alternative accommodation, except where schools are not ready and thus unsafe."

Motshekga is due to hold a press briefing at 16:00 on Sunday to outline progress.

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