After the announcement by the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angie Motshega, that schools will reopen next month, some parents are likely to keep their children at home out of fear for coronavirus infection.
Most of the schools around the Vhembe area are not ready with the classes because some of the schools are without running water or proper infrastructure and sanitation.
Motshega announced that the schools would reopen on 1 June for Grades 7 and 12, while teachers would go back to school on 25 May. Parents, pupils, and the community have been asking questions about the safety of pupils and teachers when the schools reopen.
During her announcement, Motshega said that the essentials, such as sanitisers, masks, and other safety equipment, would be delivered to schools before they reopened. She said that her department was working closely with the Department of Water Affairs to provide water to schools that did not have boreholes.
Ms Mercy Muhovhe, a parent, said that during the lockdown she encouraged her children to study online lessons. She said that sending children to school when the situation was still not safe was risky. "We cannot risk the lives of our children and educators by instructing them to come to school when no safety measures are in place," she said.
One of the Grade 12 pupils, Lutendo Sikhwari, said that during the lockdown she was studying online. "I was genuinely enjoying online lessons because this allows me to work at my own pace. It feels good because I can catch up on the subjects I missed.”
She said that when the school's reopens, the department must create a safe environment.
The SGB chairperson of Sinthumule High, a school with 1 700 pupils, Mr Jeffrey Mulabisane, said that coronavirus had brought a lot of trauma and anxiety to everyone. “It has turned our lives upside down, and a lot of learners do not know what will happen when the school reopens.”
One of the parents who wanted to remain anonymous, indicated he would not send his children back to school and teachers should not return until their health and safety were fully guaranteed. He said that a concern existed about who would monitor learners at the school because educators would be busy in classes.
The chairperson of the South African Teachers Democratic Union (SADTU) in the Sinthumule and Kutama area, Mr Maungedzo Nthabalala, said the union supported the reopening of schools if the necessary precautions had been taken to protect learners and teachers from the Covid-19 pandemic. He said that challenges of water and sanitation still existed at many schools and that the department must regard this as a matter of urgency.
Date:24 May 2020 - By: Kaizer Nengovhela
Kaizer Nengovhela started writing stories for Limpopo Mirror more than a decade ago, in 2 000. Prior to that he had a five year stint at Phala-Phala FM as sports presenter. In 2005 Kaizer received an award from the province's premier as Best Sports Presenter. The same year he was also nominated as Best Sports Reporter by the Makhado Municipality. Kaizer was awarded the Mathatha Tsedu award in 2014.