The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) expressed their disapproval of the reopening of schools for more grades on Monday, 6 July after ten learners reportedly died from Covid-19 recently.
In a statement on Thursday, the red berets said it rejected the department of education’s “murderous” plan to re-open schools despite 775 schools being affected by Covid-19.
“There has been a spike of cases in schools amongst teachers and learners since the re-opening for Grades 7 and 12 learners on 8 June 2020.
“The negligent decision by the department to re-open schools has already resulted in at least 523 learners and 1,169 teachers being infected by Covid-19 hardly four weeks into the re-opening of schools.”
The EFF argued that young people were able to contract the virus after ten learners between the ages of 10 and 19 died from Covid-19, according to recent statistics.
“This completely disproves the notion that young people and children are less susceptible to contracting the virus, a logic which has been at the centre of re-opening of schools.
“The decision to re-open schools for more grades essentially ends the lockdown because the department wants to engage in a dangerous experiment by putting as many as six million learners at risk of contracting Covid-19.
“It is no secret that as many as 3,800 schools mostly in rural areas still rely on pit latrines for sanitation and over 3,500 schools are without adequate access to water.”
The party reiterated that if it was safe for millions of learners to return to contact teaching and learning, the same must be for members of parliament, provincial legislatures and municipal council across the country who were currently conducting their work from the comfort of their homes.
“The same department which has not been able to meet its own minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure simply cannot be trusted to keep millions of learners safe when the world is still learning about how this virus affects children.
“Furthermore, the lack of readiness of schools qualitatively is central to the spike in infections in schools. Schools do not have running water, adequate personal protective equipment, sanitation and scholar transport.
“Learners are still walking long distances to school. We have seen the rape of Grade 12 learner recently from Ramotshabi Secondary School and a Grade 7 learner from Rammutla Primary School in Limpopo province who were raped while walking from school.”
The EFF further called on the department to reconsider the decision to re-open more grades.
“Schools have barely been able to cope since the return of Grades 7 and 12. and yet the department is pushing other grades back to school. To continue in this direction is to gamble with the lives of children and we will hold Cyril Ramaphosa personally responsible for the mass infection and death of children.”
Meanwhile, One South Africa chief activist Mmusi Maimane suffered a blow at the Pretoria High Court after his bid to suspend the reopening of schools for a period of 60 days was turned down.
The court ruled that Mmaimane’s request could lead to further delays in the right to further education.