The Western Cape Social Development MEC, Sharna Fernandez, has welcomed the court’s ruling that private kindergartens where Covid-19 security measures are in place, may reopen immediately. This includes day mothers, playgroups and pre-school centres.
Judge Hans Fabricius of the High Court in Pretoria said the decision taken by National Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu’s department for private nursery schools to remain closed under level 3 of Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown was unlawful and unconstitutional.
Fernandez said the national department has already put measures in place from which everyone can benefit.
However, Zulu, said it is imperative that Early Childhood Development centres follow proper health precautions as they reopen. Solidarity had approached the courts to fight what it argued was government prejudicing privately owned facilities. Speaking to the media, Zulu said her department is fully assisting all ECD centres.
“Assisting ECD’s to open is to make sure that the environment is conducive to learning and that covid-19 protocols are indefinitely adhered to,” said Zulu.
“There needs to be training and we have made sure that personal protective equipment are stipulated and that we work hand in hand with department of water and sanitation so that water may be provided in places where it is lacking. All of this is to ensure the safety of the learners and the teachers,” stated Zulu.
Meanwhile, speaking to VOC on Wednesday, Director of the Cape Town-based Centre for Childhood Development, Professor Eric Atmore welcomed the decision made by the courts.
“There were thousands of ECD teachers that weren’t at work and weren’t getting an income and more than two million young children not getting a quality learning programme and of those children most of them did not get their main nutritious meal of the day during the closures of ECDs,” stated Atmore.
However, Atmore added that is unfortunate that not all ECD’s would be able to abide by the stipulated safety COVID-19 protocols.
“I think the ECDs that will open are those ones in the more affluent areas, the ones that can afford to purchase PPE, so in a perverse way while the reopening is welcomed it will increase inequality because the vulnerable centres which makes up the bulk will not be able to open,” said Atmore.
Atmore suggested that social distancing will be a major challenge for all ECDs.
“Do not take in the full capacity of learners on day one even in week one, stagger the approach or a platoon system. In the early days we have to take this approach because we know the virus peak is still to come,” advised Atmore.
Atmore added that ECD’s that are in need of PPE should reach out on the #PPEforECD initiative.
“What my younger colleagues have done is they have initiated a campaign #PPEforECD and they’re asking families and community members and big companies that are in these sanitizing and mask making industries to contribute to fund because every rand counts,” smiled Atmore.