'If the children get Covid, then they get it': Readers react to reduced social distancing measures in schools

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"The school opened traditional everyday learning at full capacity on Monday, despite all parents concerns".
"The school opened traditional everyday learning at full capacity on Monday, despite all parents concerns".

The Minister of Basic Education has gazetted the amendments to the Disaster Management Act first announced during a media briefing last week

The update to the act stipulates the Covid-19 protocol primary schools must follow regarding the return to full-time attendance. 

According to the document, schools must implement a "risk-adjusted differentiated strategy" where attendance will be "determined by the level of reported Covid-19 infections in the school, and Covid-19 infections in the district, municipality, and country". 

In addition to the mandatory "return to the traditional and daily attendance timetabling," the new directives also include reduced social distancing measures and the recommencement of indoor and outdoor activities. 

Schools unable to meet the risk-adjusted differentiated strategy and Covid-19 safety measures are required to obtain permission to continue rotational attendance. 

Also read: Only 79 of 424 primary schools in Northern Cape return to full attendance amid staff, space shortages

Strong opinions 

Parent24 readers wrote to share their opinion on the amendments, with many opposing the decision to return to a traditional daily timetable at this time of increasing infections. 

'Out of options' 

A primary school near Johannesburg has zero social distancing. The principal sent out a survey for parents to complete, whereby 87% of parents opted for alternative / rotational schooling, as we know the classrooms are too small. 

The school opened traditional everyday learning at full capacity on Monday, despite all parents concerns.

When I contacted the school after letting my son stay home on Monday, the response I received was, "if the children get Covid, then they get it. The school is out of options". 

They also informed us, if we chose to keep our kids at home, we need to transfer them to a new school or de-register.

I personally feel the school and the DBE are failing our kids. This will have a bad outcome. Our kids are so afraid to be in school; surely this is too much stress for a child to carry, the fear of infecting gogo and family back home.

- Anon

Up to 40 learners in a class

In a school where the class ratio is 10 to 20 children to a teacher the risk is minimal, but in most non-paying schools in townships, there are up to 40 learners in a class. Up to 5 learners share one tiny desk. Reality is no social distancing at all.

- M. Phillips

A child can repeat a Grade, but we cannot return a life 

On my kids first day back, the school sent out a message about students testing positive and more cases of parents who tested positive. 

So how on earth are we going to conquer this virus? 

Again lives are more important than anything,  a child can repeat a grade, but we cannot return a life. 

Kids don't keep social distancing, I witness hugs, close groups, no masks at schools, and that's a huge concern.

Covid-19 will not be dealt with if proper protocols are not taken, especially with the reopening of schools in this time of a dangerous pandemic. 

- Anon

Also see: 'No one knows what's happening behind closed doors': Local teacher questions school Covid-19 safety

Wait till spring to send the kids back

My kids go to school in KZN on the south coast, and there are so many people testing positive. I feel they could have waited till spring when it gets warmer to send the kids back. I think many kids at school are actually positive but haven't been tested. 

- P Martin

I am fearful for my kids

Schools should not open daily as we are amid the 3rd wave, and our numbers have increased, and we still expect the 4th wave. I am fearful for my kids as learners are forced to sit next to each other in close contact. 

- Anon

Giving our children a death sentence

I would like to officially oppose the new adjusted 1-metre social distancing protocol introduced by education minister Angie Mothsega. 

The only reason she's pushing for this is for the feeding scheme and to complete the yearly curriculum, disregarding the safety of our children.

The government are putting innocent children at risk. The delta variant is highly transmissible and constitutes a greater social distancing protocol. 

This matter should be taken to the constitutional court. Constitutionally we as parents have the right to protect our children even if it means we have to go to court. The government is giving our children a death sentence in the name of completing a syllabus. My children will not be an experiment. 

- S. Basha

We should be able to voice our concerns

I don't agree with having schools reopened full-time. The staggered classes are more effective during this period of the pandemic. We should be able to voice our concerns, and as parents, change the way things are done in South Africa's education system. 

- Anon

Schools should be at a maximum 50% capacity 

My daughter returned to full-time school at the beginning of the term. I really did not want to send her, but I felt I had to because the school does not offer online classes. I don't want her to feel left out, and I don't want her to fall behind or miss any schoolwork.

Since the last term, almost every day, we get an email that another teacher or child has tested positive, and thoughts and prayers are with them and their families. 

It is a source of daily anxiety. My father, who has comorbidities, lives with us. It is very stressful for our whole family, and I am sure teachers feel exactly the same. 

I definitely feel that schools should offer online schooling to those who would like it. Alternatively, schools should be at a maximum 50% capacity to control the spreading. Or both. 

Stop the spread and stop the stress. 

- Anon

Read the gazetted amendments to the Disaster Management Act here

*The views and opinions expressed above don't necessarily reflect that of Parent24 or Media24. 

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