Teachers spend most of the school day asking pupils to adhere to Covid-19 protocols - survey

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Classroom teaching during Level 3 lockdown at Nhlanhlayethu Secondary School.
Classroom teaching during Level 3 lockdown at Nhlanhlayethu Secondary School.
  • Teachers say they are not sure whether there will be any change in terms of safety when schools reopen on 15 February.
  • Teachers are scared of the new variant, with 93% saying they fear being infected while teaching.
  • The education department postponed the initial opening of 27 January due to the second wave of Covid-19.  

A survey has found that teachers spend a large part of their school day pleading with pupils to adhere to Covid-19 protocols.

Although the reopening of schools has been pushed back, teachers still feel their concerns have not been fully addressed.

The online professional learning community, Zibuza.net, conducted multiple surveys since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

The most recent survey, which was done before the reopening of schools was pushed back to 15 February, focused on teachers' concerns, especially amid the second wave and the new variant.

According to Zibuza.net founder, Malcolm Mooi, teachers are sceptical about what improvements would realistically have been made between now and the two weeks to which the reopening has been pushed back. 

ALSO READ | 'We sensed danger' - Lesufi appeals to private schools to postpone reopening

The department announced last week that schools would no longer open on 27 January, but rather 15 February, because of concerns around the second wave and the new variant.

The new variant is said to also put younger people at risk.

The Zibuza.net survey relied on feedback from their almost 20 000 members. 

Fear

According to the online learning platform, 61% of the survey respondents said they were aged 45 and above, which meant they were at higher risk of contracting the virus. 

It added that 62% said they had either contracted the virus, or knew one of their colleagues who had it.

At least 90% respondents also expressed their fear of the new variant, with one Gauteng private school teacher predicting far more teachers will be infected during the first quarter of the year.

Another teacher said:

Learners aren't really scared of Covid-19 and most only wear a mask when you tell them to. They are often sitting in groups, they leave some of their stationery at home and borrow from their friends.

Some teachers believe pupils have to take responsibility for their own health and those around them.

Several others believe stricter measures need to be put in place and that pupils should face consequences if they did not adhere to Covid-19 protocols. 

Other respondents noted that their biggest fear in 2021 was that pupils, whose parents won't send them to school, will be disadvantaged.

"Teachers, parents, learners, we're all stuck between a rock and hard place in trying to find a balance between prioritising the educational needs of our nation's learners and protecting ourselves from Covid-19," a teacher from the Western Cape said.

Support

Mooi said the situation was challenging, but there were resources to provide teachers and pupils with emotional and educational support amid the storm.

He said: "With e-learning looking like the most likely solution to supplement the disrupted curriculum, teachers, parents and learners are able to access a range of educational resources in all 11 official languages on the Zibuza.net website."

He added that Zibuza.net's primary function was to serve as an online professional learning community, but it also provided a safe space for teachers to connect with their peers and provide emotional support during the pandemic.


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