fb

Reopening of schools on 01 June has parents conflicted

By: Natasha Archary 

Reopening of schools
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels

Confusion reigns and social media rants flood timelines since the President’s address stating the country will move to Level 3: Lockdown from the 01 June. Further angry sentiments were raised around the decision that schools are to reopen, with Grade 7 and 12 learners set to return simultaneously with the lockdown restrictions lifting. 

 

Up in arms

This all feels like a bad joke, doesn’t it? How do we move from a complete nationwide lockdown with only a few hundred cases in March, to level 3 with the rate of infection peaking currently? And move to have schools reopen to save the academic year? 

 

Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, explains that the initial lockdown was never intended to stop infections altogether, instead, it was to flatten the curve for the healthcare system to cope with infections. 

 

And many believe that the lockdown did little to nothing to assist with that, as South Africa’s rate of infection seemed to only rise steadily since March with hundreds of deaths being reported to date. 

 

The plan for the reopening of schools was approved by the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet. A move that has seen several concerned parties, organizations, unions, and parents worried about the safety of children during this global pandemic. 

 

The National Association of Parents in School Governance on behalf of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) is hoping for the decision to be reversed. And are calling for stricter lockdown restrictions while strongly opposing the reopening of schools, until protective measures are in place. 

 

Blanketed one-size-fits-all approach 

From the outside looking in, it may seem like Cabinet has taken a one-size-fits-all approach to the consideration to reopen schools. Both public and private school institutions are expected to open doors to welcome back the Grade 7 and 12 students on the 01 June. 

 

With school communication to parents sharing the overall reopening for other grades throughout the month. Within 2 weeks all grades are set to return to school, with the little ones in Grade 0 expected back on the 15 June. 

 

We’ve heard our Ministers speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic, calling it difficult to plan around because it’s the first time we’re dealing with something of this magnitude. So, are we just going to go about managing this with a trial and error approach? There is no way every household in the country has the same risk factors or socio-economic ones. 

 

The same for schools. With larger classrooms in public schools, there’s no doubt these will be the hardest hit. 

 

Here’s why the one-size-fits-all approach won’t work: 

 

  • Schools in rural and impoverished areas cannot possibly be labeled COVID-compliant. Without basic sanitation, running water, or proper toilet facilities. 
  • A large majority of families rely on public transport to get their children to and from school. With the protocols for traveling allowing only a smaller number in public transport, this could lengthen a school day for the average learner.
  • 1,577 schools were vandalized, robbed, and burnt over the lockdown period. Have these facilities, infrastructure, and equipment been replaced to push for ALL schools to reopen on the 01 June? Because it does seem null and void to stress the importance of the return to school when there is a lack of basics. Don’t you think?
  • With larger classrooms in public schools, there’s no doubt these will be the hardest hit. 
  •  This does not negate the safety concerns for parents whose children are in private schools as exposure to external service providers and sporting activities are still risk factors.
  • With an increase in the unemployment rate since COVID-19 hit the country, most households face tough economic hardships, how are parents supposed to meet the costs for schooling until they find a source of income? Transport fees, stationery requirements, uniforms, packed lunches, extra-curricular activities?

Has the Department of Basic Education thought this through?

 

How the rest of the world compares

COVID-19 lockdown measures have seen schools either partially or fully closed across 186 countries worldwide, according to UNESCO. 

 

Since the start of May, countries like Norway, China, and Japan, have reopened schools. With Denmark welcoming back the younger pupils ahead of their higher grades. In France, classrooms have been capped at 10 students for pre-primary and 15 students for other age groups. 

 

Sydney was forced to close 2 school facilities after students tested positive for the virus this week. 

 

What schools in other countries have done differently to South Africa, was that they reopened schools ONLY once there were significant drops in the rate of infection. Not when new infections were at their peak. 

 

We’ve heard of measures being put in place to ensure that proper screenings will be conducted at schools once learners return on the 01 June. What are these measures? As it stands, not every mall, public facility, corporate, or stores in the country, are doing mandatory temperature checks. Which alone is alarming.

 

All that South Africans are being offered are hand sanitizers. Is this the measure that will give parents peace of mind? 

Reopening of schools
Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels
Home school warning 

The Governing Body Foundation (GBF) has advised parents to reconsider taking their children out of school and opting for homeschooling. Stating it will have implications later, with the warning that a child may be denied access back to the school next year or if the parent decides to send their child back later in the year.

 

While President Ramaphosa was adamant that parents will not be forced to adhere to the call for students to return to school, it’s not free-will if it feels like we’re being given an ultimatum, is it? 

 

Schools have done well with remote learning during the lockdown, with many offering parents the option to continue with online learning. However, Minister Angie Motshekga has made it clear that if a child is to continue with homeschooling, one would need to register with the department for it. Once arrangements for homeschooling have been made with the department, parents will be supported if the guidelines are followed. Parents will then need to deregister the child for homeschooling and re-enroll for the child to physically attend school again. 

 

Complications that South African parents don’t need right now. Instead of reassuring parents that the department has a plan to tread these treacherous times with a smooth transition for both parents and children, we’re met with a nonchalant stance about placements not being guaranteed next year. 

 

If that is the case and this is the fight to be treated fairly during this humanitarian crisis, more parents may just opt for homeschooling as a permanent solution. Those who do not have the means necessary, however, may be forced to have their children return. 

 

Where’s the silver lining?

At this point, social media rants and support groups calling for a #SAYNOTOSCHOOL reopening seem futile. South African parents have been told to expect small outbreaks in schools by Professor Salim Karim. 

 

If this happens and innocent children succumb to the virus, who takes responsibility? If at all. Or will parents be met with a shrug of the shoulders and the onus of responsibility falling on their shoulders? 

 

Where is the silver lining with this decision? That our children pass the academic year? What is the weight of the academic year versus the cost of life?

 

Granted, there are no guarantees when we send our children to school in general. Pre-lockdown there have been numerous reports of violence and tragedies occurring in South African schools. But to leave things to chance where you know with absolute certainty that there is an impending threat is different, surely. 

 

Would it not be more practical for our government to look for ways to create smarter social systems for health and education? Instead of reintegrating into a system that barely worked in the first place. Because the reality is that Cabinet cannot promise our children’s safety and the fact that they have not explored alternatives, raises questions about the months to follow. 

 

The world will be watching our country on the 01 June and thereafter to see how we fair and what the numbers say. 

Recent developments have led to the reopening of schools being delayed. Please stay tuned to Kaya 959 for further developments.

    Don’t miss out on the latest local news, interviews and competitions.

    Don’t miss out on the latest local news, interviews and competitions.

    Receive the latest news

    Subscribe To Our Newsletter

    THE KAYA 959 APP NOW AVAILABLE

    DOWNLOAD YOURS NOW

    Copyright Notice

    1. COPYRIGHT

    1.1 The contents of this Website, including but not limited to its compilation and arrangement, is the exclusive property of Kaya 959, alternatively the suppliers of content to Kaya 959, and accordingly remain protected by South African and International Copyright and Trademark laws.

    1.2 Any person accessing this Website, may not, save for downloading one copy for their personal computers and solely for their private and non-commercial use :

    1.2.1 Copy, disseminate, distribute, advertise, publish, adapt, modify or in any way reproduce the contents of this website for commercial purposes, unless this notice and any disclaimer attached thereto is published in its entirety, or unless the permission of Kaya 959 is obtained in writing.

    Privacy Policy

    THIS PRIVACY STATEMENT FORMS PART OF KAYA 959’S TERMS OF USE POLICY. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH ANY TERM OF THIS PRIVACY STATEMENT, YOU MUST CEASE YOUR ACCESS OF THIS WEBSITE IMMEDIATELY. 

    POPIA ActTo promote the protection of personal information processed by public and private bodies; to introduce certain conditions so as to establish minimum requirements for the processing of personal information; to provide for the establishment of an Information Regulator to exercise certain powers and to perform certain duties and functions in terms of this Act and the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000; to provide for the issuing of codes of conduct; to provide for the rights of persons regarding unsolicited electronic communications and automated decision making; to regulate the flow of personal information across the borders of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith.

    RECOGNISING THAT—

    • section 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, provides that everyone has the right to privacy;
    • the right to privacy includes a right to protection against the unlawful collection, retention, dissemination and use of personal information;
    • the State must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights;

    AND BEARING IN MIND THAT—

    • consonant with the constitutional values of democracy and openness, the need for economic and social progress, within the framework of the information society, requires the removal of unnecessary impediments to the free flow of information, including personal information;

    AND IN ORDER TO—

    • regulate, in harmony with international standards, the processing of personal information by public and private bodies in a manner that gives effect to the right to privacy subject to justifiable limitations that are aimed at protecting other rights and important interests,
    1. Definitions and Interpretation

    1.1.“Personal Information” means information relating to an identifiable, living, natural person and where it is applicable, identifiable, existing juristic person, including all information as defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013. 

    1.2  Parliament assented to POPIA on 19 November 2013. The commencement date of section 1Part A of Chapter 5section 112 and section 113 was 11 April 2014. The commencement date of the other sections was 1 July 2020 (with the exception of section 110 and 114(4). The President of South Africa has proclaimed the POPI commencement date to be 1 July 2020.

     
    1.3. “Processing” means the creation, generation, communication, storage, destruction of personal information as more fully defined in the Protection of Personal Information Act 4 of 2013.  

    1.4. “You” or the “user” means any person who accesses and browses this website for any purpose. 

    1.4. “Website” means the website of the KAYA 959 at URL www.kaya959.co.za or such other URL as KAYA 959 may choose from time to time.   

    1. Status and Amendments

    2.1. KAYA 959 respects your privacy. This privacy policy statement sets out KAYA 959’s information gathering and dissemination practices in respect of the Website. 

    2.2. This Privacy Policy governs the processing of personal information provided to KAYA 959 through your use of the Website. 

    2.3. Please note that, due to legal and other developments, KAYA 959 may amend these terms and conditions from time to time.  

    1. Processing of Personal Information

    3.1. By providing your personal information to KAYA 959 you acknowledge that it has been collected directly from you and consent to its processing by KAYA 959. 

    3.2. Where you submit Personal Information (such as name, address, telephone number and email address) via the website (e.g. through completing any online form) the following principles are observed in the processing of that information: 

    3.2.1. KAYA 959 will only collect personal information for a purpose consistent with the purpose for which it is required. The specific purpose for which information is 
    collected will be apparent from the context in which it is requested. 

    3.2.2. KAYA 959 will only process personal information in a manner that is adequate, relevant and not excessive in the context of the purpose for which it is processed. 

    3.2.3. Personal information will only be processed for a purpose compatible with that for which it was collected, unless you have agreed to an alternative purpose in writing or KAYA 959 is permitted in terms of national legislation of general application dealing primarily with the protection of personal information. 

    3.2.4. KAYA 959 will keep records of all personal Information collected and the specific purpose for which it was collected for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

    3.2.5. KAYA 959 will not disclose any personal information relating to you to any third party unless your prior written agreement is obtained or KAYA 959 is required to do so by law. 

    3.2.6. If personal information is released with your consent KAYA 959 will retain a record of the information released, the third party to which it was released, the reason for the release and the date of release, for a period of 1 (one) year from the date on which it was last used. 

    3.2.7. KAYA 959 will destroy or delete any personal information that is no longer needed by KAYA 959 for the purpose it was initially collected, or subsequently processed. 

    3.3. Note that, as permitted by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 25 of 2002, KAYA 959 may use personal information collected to compile profiles for statistical purposes. No information contained in the profiles or statistics will be able to be linked to any specific user.    

    1. Collection of anonymous data

    4.1. KAYA 959 may use standard technology to collect information about the use of this website. This technology is not able to identify individual users but simply allows KAYA 959 to collect statistics. 

    4.2. KAYA 959 may utilise temporary or session cookies to keep track of users’ browsing habits. A cookie is a small file that is placed on your hard drive in order to keep a record of your interaction with this website and facilitate user convenience. 

    4.2.1. Cookies by themselves will not be used to identify users personally but may be used to compile identified statistics relating to use of services offered or to provide KAYA 959 with feedback on the performance of this website. 

    4.2.2. The following classes of information may be collected in respect of users who have enabled cookies: 

    4.2.2.1. The browser software used; 

    4.2.2.2. IP address; 

    4.2.2.3. Date and time of activities while visiting the website; 

    4.2.2.4. URLs of internal pages visited; and 

    4.2.2.5. referrers. 

    4.3. If you do not wish cookies to be employed to customize your interaction with this website it is possible to alter the manner in which your browser handles cookies. Please note that, if this is done, certain services on this website may not be available. 

    1. Security

    5.1. KAYA 959 takes reasonable measures to ensure the security and integrity of information submitted to or collected by this website, but cannot under any circumstances be held liable for any loss or other damage sustained by you as a result of unlawful access to or dissemination of any personal information by a third party. 

    1. Links to other websites

    6.1. KAYA 959 has no control over and accepts no responsibility for the privacy practices of any third party websites to which hyperlinks may have been provided and KAYA 959 strongly recommends that you review the privacy policy of any website you visit before using it further. 

    1. Queries

    7.1. If you have any queries about this privacy policy please contact us by emailing [email protected] 

    Competition Terms and Conditions

    • The competitions are open to all persons over the age of 18 years; except directors, partners, employees, agents, service providers, and consultants of Kaya 959, the sponsor and all its subsidiaries and its holding company, if any, as well as all spouses, life partners, parents, children, siblings, business partners and associates of such persons.

    • The outcome of the competition is subject to the decision of the judge/presenter, whose decision is final and no negotiation will be entered into thereafter. Neither Kaya 959, sponsors nor their agents will be held responsible or answerable to any dispute arising from the competition or prize awards.

    • Participants/listeners enter or take part in competitions at their own risk and Kaya 959 bears no responsibility for any loss, damage or harm suffered as a result of participation in any of Kaya 959 competition.

    • One listener is entitled to winning one prize in a period of 3 months. Kaya 959 reserves the right not to award a prize if the listener has won a prize prior during the 3 month window period. This also applies to listeners who provide family or friend’s contact details.

    • Kaya 959 reserves the right to redistribute all unclaimed prizes if not claimed after 3 months after being given away On Air or on the website.

    • Prizes are not transferable and may not be exchanged for cash.

    • Finalists will forfeit their participation in the competition if they fail to attend the draws.

    • The competition will run during the period advertised on Kaya 959; entries received outside of the competition period will not be considered for the competition draw.

    • Kaya 959 and their sponsors reserve the right to cancel, modify or amend the competition at any time if deemed necessary in their opinion, or if circumstances arise outside of their control.

    • By entering the competition, entrants agree to accept these rules and to be bound by them.