Teachers’ union the Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysers Unie (SAOU) says it will continue engaging with government to ensure the continuity of the school year amidst the second wave of the coronavirus.
Schools are set to reopen on January 27.
The SAOU says that so far, 1 059 teachers have lost their lives to COVID-19, while several thousands of educators are infected.
The union’s Chris Klopper says the safety of learners and educators must be prioritised.
“If you look at the numbers of teachers who have passed away, you are looking into a number of around 2 000 and that equates to about 7% of the number of people who have passed away. So clearly teachers are at a higher risk. There are thousands of teachers who are currently very, very ill and that also implies that when schools reopen, there’s going to be huge absenteeism of teachers and that’s going to disrupt schools. It is going to be disastrous for the school careers of many, many learners and we can’t afford that because it will have long term consequences for the country. We have had initial discussions with the department and the minister and we will do so again.”
Meanwhile, the marking of exam matric exam papers continues across the country.
The Department of Education has vowed to prioritise the safety of the approximately 45 000 markers and adhere to strict health and safety protocols.
Department Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says screening will be done across all 180 marking centres.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga outlined protocols to ensure that the marking of the matric examinations continues uninterrupted, even if any personnel tests positive for the coronavirus.
Guidelines state that:
- If any person displays symptoms typical of COVID-19, they will be placed in a separate isolation room
- They must then seek medical attention before they are allowed to resume marking
- All markers that test positive for the virus will not be allowed to continue marking
- If it is determined that a person has lied about being negative, they will be charged with misconduct.