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Sadtu wants all pupils screened

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Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said that the union was not confident that screening would focus on covering all pupils.

THE SOUTH African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) has expressed concern that the government’s mass home visit Covid-19 screening might not cover all pupils before the reopening of the schools.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced that about

10 000 health care field workers would from this week conduct nationwide home visit screenings.

However, Sadtu spokesperson Nomusa Cembi said that the union was not confident that screening would focus on covering all pupils.

“We would want every pupil and every teacher to be screened as a preventative measure, but we are not saying that this is the prerequisite for the opening of schools,” Cembi said.

He said that if the home visits failed to cover all pupils and teachers, then it would have to be done at schools.

Cembi added that the exact date for schools to reopen would be known after a meeting of unions and Basic Education director-general Mathanzima Mweli on April 14.

The 21-day Covid-19 lockdown, which started on March 26, is expected to end at midnight on April 16 but could be extended. According to a Department of Basic Education memo: “Teaching time lost may be recovered by the shortening of the winter and spring holidays.”

The memo also said that the second school quarter would be extended by three weeks, “hence Grade 12 would not have a vacation (June), and the September holidays would be shortened by one day”.

“Instead of cancelling the June holiday for Grade 12 completely, an option would be to extend the Term 2 school day for 2 hours to cover up the 5 days,” read the memo.

Basic Education spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said in reaction to Sadtu’s concerns about screening that Minister Angie Motshekga held a teleconference with various unions yesterday morning.

“There was an agreement, which the minister was taking to the command council. All the unions expressed their concerns, the minister accepted them and said she is taking them to the president,” said Mokgatlhe.

With regard to the reopening of schools, Mokgatlhe explained that the exact date would be determined by Ramaphosa.

She said the initial plan was to reopen schools on April 21 “if the lockdown is lifted on April 16”.

“The president is to address the nation again to tell us if the curve has been flattened.

“Right now there is no date set for reopening,” she said.