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School reopening fight rages on

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Council of Education Ministers says calls for boycotts against the reopening of schools interfered with the rights of those wanting to be at school

File picture: Brendan Magaar / African News Agency (ANA)

THE COUNCIL of Education Ministers (CEM), led by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, has threatened to take legal action if politicians and organisations arrange boycotts against the reopening of schools.

Former DA leader Mmusi Maimane and his One SA Movement are among those who had called for a stay-away by teachers and pupils on Friday.

He made the call in view of the increased number of coronavirus cases countrywide, and with reports that many schools have to shut down for deep-cleaning when staff and children become infected.

He wants schools closed until after the peak of infections and winter has passed. Exams should be rescheduled for three months after the disease had plateaued, he said in a memorandum.

“The CEM has not ruled out the possibility of going to court to seek protection from all those hell-bent on obstructing schooling,” it said in a statement, saying such calls interfered with the rights of those wanting to be at school.

This week, grades R, 6 and 11 returned to school in most provinces, joining grades 7 and 12, who returned earlier. The next batch of children in grades 3 and 10 are due back on July 20.

Maimane said that the CEM legal threat was directed specifically at him after his stay-away call had received a positive response.

“The question they (CEM) must answer, is it okay that there is a school closing every single day in this country because of Covid-19? Who is going to take responsibility when more pupils and teachers are getting infected?” asked Maimane.