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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is expected to give an update whether schools close or remain open after back-to-back meetings with the teachers unions, school principals and school governing bodies on Friday.
The meeting which started on Friday was held to assess the situation at schools since the reopening and the return of pupils from Grade 12, 11, 7, 6 and Grade R in several provinces.
South Africa’s five major teacher unions have called for the immediate closure of all schools as coronavirus cases continue to surge.
Motshekga was expected to consult the Cabinet this weekend,as pressure has been mounting on the department of basic education to close schools.
The five unions namely,South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa), South African Teachers Union (Saou), National Teachers Union (Natu) and Professional Educators Union (PEU) have resolved that schools be closed with immediate effect.
The unions said in a proposal document, that matriculants should return on 17 August and that these students should be assisted in various ways while learning from home.
Other grades should only return at the end of August, subject to a review based on the development of the virus, the unions said.
Motshekga will now discuss these proposals with the cabinet after the meeting of the Council of Education Ministers which took place on Saturday (18 July).
An announcement on the outcome of Motshekga’s engagement will be announced in due course. Details will be made available once the process has been concluded.
Meanwhile President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that saving lives during this pandemic is important as government is set to engage stakeholders in the education sector on the reopening schools.
Interacting with communities across the nation through a virtual Presidential Imbizo on Coronavirus on Wednesday, the President said government will in the next few days engage parents, student organisations, unions as well as other organisations, on the matter of reopening schools.
“Once this had been done, we are going to assess what we have heard and discuss it with the medical advisory committee… in the light of what the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. I think we will come to a positive and inclusive decision,” Ramaphosa said.
The WHO recently warned against the reopening of schools while local transmissions of the Coronavirus are on the rise.