Union to appeal judgment that struck attempt to halt reopening of schools off the roll

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Strict hygiene protocols have been implemented at schools to ensure they minimise the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Strict hygiene protocols have been implemented at schools to ensure they minimise the risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Lee Warren, Gallo Images
  • A teachers' union has filed papers to appeal a judgment in its bid to halt the reopening of schools.
  • The High Court previously struck the case off the roll due to a lack of urgency.
  • The union wants schools to reopen in September when winter has ended.

The Educators' Union of South Africa has filed papers in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to apply for leave to appeal a judgment that struck its bid to interdict the Department of Basic Education from reopening schools off the roll.

It was struck off due a lack of urgency on 10 June.

The union wanted the reopening of schools to be delayed amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It seeks to appeal the ruling that its application lacked urgency, as well as a costs order.

In court papers, the union argued, among others, should leave to appeal be granted, an appeal would have reasonable prospects of success.

"This will be a full Bench this time that will be hearing the matter and we are confident that we will succeed. We are hoping that the schools can reopen in September as that is when the winter season will come to an end," the union's Siphiwe Mpungose told News24 on Thursday evening.

READ: Schools reopening: High court strikes EUSA bid to have decision overturned off the roll

This after it had argued before Judge Tintswalo Makhubele the decision to reopen schools amid the Covid-19 pandemic posed a risk to pupils and teachers.

Relief

Solidarity, joining the case as a friend of the court, argued the relief sought by the union was disruptive, would impact on the academic year and have drastic effects on the schooling programme.

It would also violate the constitutional rights of pupils and teachers, its deputy chief executive, Werner Human, previously told News24.

"We argued in favour of ultimately schools deciding when they should open in compliance with the standards that have been set with the regulations. The regulations that have been published provide a sufficient framework wherein schools can make themselves ready," he said at the time.

Schools officially reopened for Grade 7 and 12 pupils in June under Level 3 of the lockdown. Some schools reopened on 1 June, while the rest did so on 8 June.

Department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga previously told News24 the decision to reopen was not just made by the education department alone. "... it was advised by experts who are in the medical field. We have done all they said we needed to do in order to protect pupils and we are going to continue doing all we can to protect learners and teachers."

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