Many teachers feel that not enough has been done to protect both them and their pupils, as Covid-19 infection rates continue to rise, and are sceptical about what improvements can realistically be made between now and February 15
ABOUT 90 percent of teachers of surveyed by online professional learning community, Zibuza.net, said they feared contracting the coronavirus while teaching.
The fear looms as a result of the news of a more infections Covid-19 variant, which is said to spread more rapidly. South Africa is already at the peak of its second wave.
The online learning community questioned about 20,000 of its members and has conducted multiple surveys to assess how teachers are coping with the impact of Covid-19 on learning since the pandemic began.
The release of the survey results follows the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) two-week delay in the reopening of schools, which has been pushed to February 15.
According to the survey, many teachers still feel that their concerns are not being adequately addressed by the governing bodies.
Zibuza.net founder Malcom Mooi said: “While the teachers in our network appreciate the challenging position that the DBE is in, many still feel like not enough has been done to protect both them and their pupils, as Covid-19 infection rates continue to rise, and are sceptical about what improvements can realistically be made between now and February.”
The majority of the teachers, 61%, indicated that they were 45 and over, which placed them at higher risk category for developing symptoms of Covid- 19, according to the survey cited by The Mayo Clinic, while 62% said that either they or one of their colleagues had contracted Covid-19 while teaching.
Teachers are classified as essential workers and would only be vaccinated when phase 2 of the vaccination plan is rolled out.
“Many teachers believe that these measures will be too late to prevent schools from becoming super-spreader sites,” Mooi said.
A Free State teacher replied to the online survey saying: “Pupils aren’t really scared of Covid-19 and most only wear a mask when you tell them to. They are often sitting in groups and leave some of their stationery at home and borrow from their friends.”
According to the survey, teachers spent most of their time cautioning pupils to stick to the social distancing and hygiene rules.
“Teachers, parents, pupils – we’re all stuck between a rock and hard place, while trying to find a balance between prioritising the educational needs of our nation’s pupils and protecting ourselves from Covid-19,” summed up one Western Cape teacher.