Minister to brief public on #Covid19 response in schools

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Petunia Secondary School educators refuse to teach due to positive Covid-19 cases at school.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga is this weekend expected to brief the public on her department’s response to the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country’s schools.

OFM News reports, the briefing, which according to a media advisory, is being held on Saturday 19 June, comes as educators at Petunia Secondary School in Bloemfontein have boycotted teaching over the alleged lack of transparency by school management regarding rising Covid-19 cases.

Two teachers, who spoke to OFM News on account of anonymity, say thus far they have heard through the grapevine that three educators and six learners at the school have tested positive for the deadly coronavirus of late, but the headmaster has not formally announced this to staff. Grade 8 to 12 learners at the school are currently in the midst of their mid-year examinations and without teachers, questions are being raised as to who is moderating the ongoing exams.

Spokesperson for the Education Department, Howard Ndaba, is aware of the situation but is yet to comment on record.

The disgruntled educators say that they find themselves working in what they deem to be “contaminated classes/spaces” that have not been sanitised and deep-cleaned.

On Friday, some of the teachers are opting to stay at home whilst others are intending on filing grievance forms with the department.

Motshekga’s briefing comes on the back of South Africa being moved up to lockdown level 3, as well as threats by the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, that all schools in the country need to be closed due to surging Covid-19 infections, or the EFF will shut down schools themselves.

The Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas), Jaco Deacon, says they believe that the decision to suspend schooling should not be a blanket one and the issue needs to be addressed on a case by case basis. He said if the school is located in a hotspot area and teaching staff, as well as learners, are infected, then a decision needs to be made in consultation with the Department of Education and the Health Department in that province to close or not.

OFM News/Olebogeng Motse