Home South African Teacher unions worry about critical PPE shortages in some schools

Teacher unions worry about critical PPE shortages in some schools

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Teacher unions have expressed concern about personal protective equipment shortages as schools opened on Monday

File picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

WITH millions of pupils expected back in schools on Monday, teacher unions are crying foul, saying some schools still lack the basic health necessities to keep safe from Covid-19 infections.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and department director-general Mathanzima Mweli gave a detailed briefing on the state of readiness of schools on Sunday.

They said all public schools would reopen for pupils on Monday, however some schools would continue to use a calendar that alternates classes and grades on different days to comply with issues of social distancing.

Motshekga said personal protective equipment (PPE), textbooks and stationery were all in place to ensure that pupils have a safe and productive return to schools. The scholar transport and nutrition programmes were also ready to resume.

But some teacher unions have said that not all schools are ready, as some schools had not received their PPE.

The report by the Department of Education revealed that about 1,200 teachers across the country have died due to Covid-19 since last year.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) chief executive Thirona Moodley said reports from members indicated that not all schools had received all PPE, including sanitisers and detergents.

“We are aware that deliveries have been made to the districts but they are yet to be delivered to the schools. We also have had reports that masks delivered were the incorrect sizes and will have to be returned. This will cause further delays.

“Water tanks in some schools need replacing as they have been of poor quality. Naptosa also notes that staffing may be an issue in some schools …

“Naptosa will want to, as far as possible, see minimum interruptions to this academic year. We are aware that the virus is going to be with us for at least the rest of the year and we must make the most of available resources to make this a meaningful academic year, while still keeping our learners and school staff safe,” she said.

Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said: “We are happy with the emphasis on health and that a school that is not ready, meaning a school that does not comply, must delay reopening.

“The state of readiness on paper differs with realities on the ground … last week some schools had not received PPEs … We will see as we visit schools on Monday. Many school vacancies have not been filled.”