Muslim schools in the Western Cape are positive that they can adhere to government COVID-19 safety protocol, but have called for the support of parents.
With educators poised to return to school next week to prepare for the first intake of learners in Grade 7 and Grade 12, schools are working hard to deep clean classrooms and to ensure safety standards such as sanitizers, temperature thermo scanners and masks are in place.
After weeks of uncertainty about how learners would be phased in, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga finally addressed the nation on Tuesday night to provide much-needed clarity and detail around the plan to reopen schools on 1 June. Western Cape MEC for Education Debbie Schafer said as they prepare for safe learning, the provincial education department has cautioned that the challenge is “unprecedented”. Schafer has visited some schools this past week to guage the readiness of the province.
“This is an extremely difficult time for all of us. We need cool heads and discipline in implementing these safety measures. And it will take a monumental team effort to make the changes that we need to make to deal with this pandemic,” she said.
Speaking to VOC, Oracle Academy director Ashraf Gangraker, said debating the issue of the reopening of school is irrelevant as the decision has already been made.
“It is so easy for me to say we will be ready, but I honestly don’t know. If you were to ask me if Oracle was ready, then definitely. We are a much smaller group and we are more manageable, but most schools are facing real struggles. They have not received any of the hygiene packs spoken of,” he said.
“As educators, it is not our responsibility to debate whether schools are ready or not, it is now our responsibly ensure that the well-being of staff, learners and anyone entering the school are safe,” he added.
Shaheem Gallant, the principal of Islamia High School said their school is ready, but the broader focus should be on the 80% of schools who are unfortunately not ready because of challenges such as over-crowding, being a commuter school and other issues.
“A greater number of pupils have already been denied their right to education when we went into lock-down. We had E-schooling (internet learning) available and they could not access it because they did not have Wi-Fi or internet connection and now they have to come back into a school where numbers are high and social distancing appears to be a challenge,” he said.
Gallant said that the greatest fear schools have are how will they control children and how children will adjust to the lock-down regulations.
“We find ourselves in a situation we have never been before. How will children come to school; how will we know that they have taken the necessary precautions enroute to school. Social distancing can not be managed at schools we the numbers are high,” he stressed.
Meanwhile Gangraker said that learning should take place at home.
“It should be protocol that parents already get the children into the habit of maintaining social distancing, keeping their masks on etc. This should be taught at home then it won’t be unfamiliar territory when our learners return to school,” he stated. VOC