Home South African Unions challenge change to social distancing at school

Unions challenge change to social distancing at school

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Education unions say they were not consulted over plans to further narrow social distancing in primary schools.

Education unions say they were not consulted over plans to further narrow social distancing in primary schools.

Cape Town – Education unions say they were not consulted over plans to further narrow social distancing in primary schools.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga expressed her intentions to approach the National Coronavirus Command Council and the Cabinet to propose that the current 1m physical distance between children be reduced to 0.5m to accommodate more pupils in classrooms.

Speaking at Monde Primary School and another school in Gauteng on Tuesday, where she was monitoring the second day of daily attendance, Motshekga said the social distancing regulation has to be amended to mitigate learner losses.

However, in a joint statement on Wednesday, teacher unions the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptos), the National Teachers’ Union, the Professional Educators Union , the South African Democratic Teachers Union and the South African Teachers’ Union, said: “It is our contention that this matter must be the subject of genuine consultations with the organised teaching profession and that it must be supported by scientific evidence that the planned reduction will not lead to further infections among learners, educators and members of the broader community.

“No scientific evidence thus far has been provided to the unions in connection with the acceptability of such a reduction,” the unions said.

They advised schools that in the interim where the 1m cannot be complied with, the schools should follow the deviation provisions as contained in the August 1 Gazette and to continue with rotational timetabling.

The unions said that while they were in favour of a return to normality to ensure that the traditional timetables in schools may be reintroduced, it could not be at the expense of compliance with the required health and safety protocols that the Department of Health placed.

“This is done in the best interest of the child, educators and the community and to ensure that schools do not become super-spreaders but rather the barriers against the transmission. The teacher unions have formally requested an urgent meeting with the Department of Basic Education to discuss the matter.”

By Thursday morning Naptosa’s executive director, Basil Manuel, said they had not received Motshekga’s response to the meeting invite.

Cape Times

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