Clarity needed on next phase of schools reopening – Nomsa Marchesi

DA MP wants to know what plans re in place to accommodate the remaining learners

DA welcomes the reopening of schools but seeks clarity on certain issues

8 June 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the reopening of schools today across the country. We wish the Grade 7, 12 and School of Skills learners all the best as they adapt to their new academic reality. We trust that they will all make a success of the remaining academic period.

As important as the recovery of the academic year is, of equal importance is that safety standards are upheld and maintained to protect learners and teachers as well as to ensure that schools are ready for the next phase of learners returning.

The DA has submitted the following parliamentary questions to Minister Motshekga to seek clarity on the next phase of schools reopening:

What plans does the department have in place or has directed to provinces to accommodate the remaining learners from other Grades who will be phased back into attending school;

Since the Coronavirus pandemic, schools have been forced to decrease the number of learners in a classroom, will the department consider or maintain the decreased ratio of learners to teachers post Coronavirus pandemic?

What options will the department provide to parents who are unable to provide their children with homeschooling,  but are afraid and refuse to send their children to school?

The DA calls on the Minister to give clear and urgent clarification on the above, as her successive delays and confusion over the last two weeks have caused stress and uncertainty among parents.

We also seek further clarification on the following outstanding issues:

Contingency plans for learners, staff members and teachers with co-morbidities; and,

Whether the National School Nutritional Programme will be made available to learners who are not yet at schools given the desperate need and per calls from NGOs?

The DA urges the Minister to unequivocally clarify her position on the above matters.

While children are not the vectors of spreading the Coronavirus, their health and welfare should remain a priority. We urge parents and caregivers to ensure that their children’s schools are ready to receive them according to specific guidelines that have been put in place by the Department of Health to prevent and fight the spread of Covid-19 in our schools.

The DA has noted that only 95% of schools were ready to reopen today. We reiterate our call that schools that are not ready must not open until they are deemed ready.

To the principals, teachers and school support staff who have stepped forward and committed themselves to save the academic year - we thank you for your commitment. We also commend those parents and communities who have supported educators as they navigate this unprecedented period.

The DA will continue to monitor and conduct oversight inspections across the country to assess the true state of readiness of our schools, and the implementation of safety measures.

Issued by Nomsa Marchesi, DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education, 8 June 2020