Teachers affiliated to the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) will not return to work Monday because Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga has allegedly not fulfilled her promise to make schools safe against the coronavirus.
The union asked its members who were supposed to travel from various province to remain at their homes until the department had acted to fulfil its obligation and promises about the situation at the schools.
Educators belongings to other unions and those who were non-aligned could join the stayaway as fear mounts that the schools are not ready to receive managers and teachers as promised.
Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said the minister committed to ensure that the non-negotiable items to ensure protection against infection by Covid-19 would be delivered to schools before they opened.
The minister promised that schools would be fumigated and disinfected against the virus. They would ensure that social distancing inside classrooms and courtyards were observed and that class sizes would be reduced. Schools would be provided with soaps, sanitisers and masks and there would be screening of learners, teachers and support personnel.
In her announcement, Motshekga said social distancing must be observed in the transportation of learners to and from schools and there would be provision of psychosocial services to assist learners as well as teachers to build resilience and calm fears among them.
Maluleke said personal protective equipment (PPE) had not been procured for office-based personnel, school-based educators and education support personnel. The disinfecting of schools and offices had not even reached 25%.
“It is unlawful to expect workers to report for duty when their safety is not guaranteed. Sadtu has an obligation to advise her members not to put their safety and that of their families and communities in danger by reporting for duty before these safety precautions are in place.
He said PPE must be provided by the employer in workplaces. The department would have to ensure that screening took place on a daily basis and provision of water and sanitation would have to be made where those did not exist.
“The sanitsing of working areas and surfaces has to happen in order to fight the virus. We call on the department of basic education to comply with these non-negotiables as we don’t want the lives of our members to be in danger. We call on our members who were to travel from various provinces to remain safe in their homes until the amendment of the regulations by the competent authority as requested by teacher unions,” he said.