Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to meet with unions on Wednesday morning to discuss various issues, including the closure of schools ahead of the COVID-19 peak in the country.
The meeting comes a day after the largest teacher union South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) called for schools to close for now in efforts to prevent further infections from the virus and deaths from COVID-19 as the peak of the pandemic approaches.
“We are not saying go and tell everybody about the fact that Maluleke has tested positive but the people that are close and are in contact with the teacher who has tested positive, they have a right to know because they need to take action and take precautions and making sure that they start isolating but not only isolating from the school, they’ve got to start taking action at home,” says Sadtu’s General Secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
The National Teachers Union (Natu) and student body the Congress of South African Students (Cosas) have also reiterated their call for schools to be shut amid the pandemic except for the matric class of 2020, a call echoed by Sadtu.
Natu says it never initially supported the reopening of schools except for matrics only, in safe and well controlled environments.
Natu president Allen Thompson has accused the government of downplaying the numbers of infected teachers and learners in schools.
“And the department is now hiding the information. In other instances you find that the principal of a school is the one that has tested positive, but members of staff were never told and they have been with that principal since the schools have reopened. At least a minimum of six or seven teachers per school have tested positive. Teachers with comorbidities have never been substituted, teachers are dying in the schools and they are also testing positive day in and day out.”