The long-awaited address by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga confirmed that schools would re-open for Grade 7 and Grade 12 pupils on June 1, and this confirmation has been well received by many parents.
While the risk of Covid-19 infection remains, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has announced protective measures will be introduced.
Parents across South Africa have mailed and messaged Parent24 to say they welcome the news, even though there are still many who have grave concerns and have said they will be keeping their children at home until it is safer to send them to school.
Dad Musa wrote to say "Kids must go back to school. I don't understand what is the problem with that, in this country more than 50 thousand people die every month under normal circumstances but less than 3 hundred died of Covid-19 at the same period, people must do their maths."
Another reader asked if parents keep their children home every winter and make them wear a mask?
"Are they aware that over 11 000 South Africans died from flu last year?" he writes. "Are they aware that 66 000 South Africans died of TB last year? No one stayed home and wore a mask."
"Yes, the lockdown was necessary to put things in place and slow down the spread," he continues, "But keeping lockdown in place won't stop the spread. It is time to now manage it as we re-open."
Our country has a huge problem with education
A father of two wrote to say he's sending his kids next month. "It's grade 7's and 12's," he argues, "these kids are old enough to understand social distancing at schools during this time."
"Some subjects like History, Geography and Arts can still be overlooked and subject matter reduced, but Maths and languages can not, as these subjects you need to master in the current year as the next year grows onto it. And you will get lost without it."
He adds that he is not saying parents should take on risks, or not be concerned.
"But take appropriate actions to stay safe," he writes, "and realize the loss of keeping kids longer away from schools. Our country has a huge problem with education. We can't escalate it."
Online learning is very difficult and it’s ineffective
Save the Children South Africa (SCSA) announced that they welcome the phased-in approach on the re-opening of schools.
In a recent statement, the organisation said the prolonged closure of schools is a risk to the children’s education and well being, especially for the most vulnerable children, who rely on school not only for their education, but also nutritious meals.
While online learning is an option for many, the reality is that most of the vulnerable children do not have the necessary resources such as access to internet, computers and other smart devices, which particularly affects children in the rural areas and townships.
"I personally feel disadvantaged, online learning is very difficult and it’s ineffective. We are unable to receive information, as we have limited resources," says 17-year-old Aphiwe Ngwenya, from Umlazi, KwaZulu-Natal, reports SCSA.
Basetsana Lebello, a 16-year-old from Seshego, Limpopo, shared with SCSA that "online learning requires data and we as learners come from different backgrounds, some of our parents are street vendors and some are unemployed. Also, if I cannot understand when studying alone, what will happen to me, what will happen to my studies?"
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Declare any underlying health conditions
Litlhare Rabele, SCSA’s Advocacy Manager, urges the teacher unions and the Department of Basic Education to reach a reasonable agreement to ensure that learning continues in our classrooms.
"The Department must also ensure that learning does not stop for those learners who will be remaining at home. They must be provided with the necessary resources to continue with their studies," she said.
"We also urge parents to declare any underlying health conditions of their children, as per the requirement of the Department. Failure to do so might result in the loss of life."
Are you sending your Grade 7 or 12 pupil back to school on 1 June?
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