Parents weigh in on the idea that the 2020 school year be cancelled
Some school grades have been open since early June, but not everyone is convinced they're safe.
Empty classroom during lockdown. (Getty Images)
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Schools reopened for certain grades in early June, after much back-and-forth, and many concerns from parents and teachers alike. 

According to results of a survey conducted by four teacher unions, teachers aren't ready for a full return to school under the current Covid-19 safety protocols. Reasons include inadequate sanitation compliance and limited capacity to create viable timetables. 

Parents, teachers and a number of politicians are calling on government to close schools while the pandemic rages across South Africa, and many parents are even asking the 2020 school year be entirely cancelled.

Parent24 chatted to parents who's children have reluctantly returned to their classrooms, and to a teacher, to learn what it's been like back at school.

Mr Mtipha, a father of one of the grade 12's in a school in Kwazulu-Natal, told Parent24 that "the situation is bad."

"In Kwazulu Natal, where my son goes to school, they were given faulty face masks. Later on, water tanks that cost about R30 000 were delivered, but since today no water was delivered."

He added, "They never delivered mobile classrooms for crowded schools, and they expect learners to continue learning in those conditions."

Mtipha is asking that schools close until the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has had enough time to plan the year and implement safety measures, because he says, those that were put in place are not working. 

"Private schools can continue with their year as they were not affected by this pandemic and the school fees have already been paid, and they have enough resources to tackle problems we are facing".

"Online learning is for privileged children", he said. "For us, we are in rural areas, and some of our children can not even buy WhatsApp data for the entire month. How are they going to afford online education? They are left behind because they have no money".

"Infections numbers are rising, and our children are going to die, which is something that could have been avoided by having a school calendar cancelled for this year." 

Ms Manqoyi, a mother of a grade 12 learner at Norkem Park High school in Kempton Park, told Parent24 that her children have enough data.

"I am working hard to make that available to them. They are studying hard at home. They have all the resources, but what about those who do not have such an advantage?"

She also shared that her child received only one mask instead of two as promised by the department of education.

"The first week of school started without teachers. They were in quarantine after a positive case was identified a week before the schools opened".

"Then a week after schools reopened, an admin person at the school tested positive, now we had to keep the students at home with a hope of opening later."

Manqoyi strongly agrees with the call to cancel the school year. "I think learners should have an option between doing this year over and continue with the next grade next year," she told us. 

"I would like this option for my children, and even if they want to work hard, they can't because they do not have this access. Maybe parents and learners can also be given a choice to choose an option suitable for them with no judgement."

"I feel like people have the right to choose,"Manqoyi said. "If they do choose to send their kids to school during this period there shouldn't be any judgement. In schools where there are confirmed cases of Covid-19 children should stay at home."  

Ms Fortune, a teacher at a Western Cape school told Parent24 that the situation is "really bad" where she works.

"Some teachers are on strike from today. People at work are sick, but no one talks about them being quarantined. They are at work, even though they know they are positive," she told us.

She added, "For me, I left after four people tested positive, and I never went there again."

When asked if anyone had reported this, she responded that whether it is reported or not, "this thing is beyond the school Senior Management Team and the Principal. We think it is controlled up there because our principal agrees with us."

Has your child returned to school, or do you think the 2020 school year should be cancelled? 

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