Teachers should be setting an example for pupils, and a group of teachers from Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark clearly failed in this, according to the department of basic education (DBE).
The DBE has said that all teachers and staff at schools should adhere to the standard operating procedures that it has set as Covid-19 precautionary measures, which include a strict observation of social distancing.
Departmental spokesperson Hope Mokgatlhe said this when called about a complaint from an “extremely” disturbed parent with a pupil attending Hoërskool Driehoek in Vanderbijlpark, where teachers were pictured having lunch around a table, clearly not physically distancing from each other and not wearing masks.
Mokgatlhe said the department was now pushing for a “physical distancing” rule, more than social, which would not be “negotiable”.
She said incidents such as those pictured at Hoërskool Driehoek should be reported to the department, firstly at the provincial level and then national.
“We need to bring people to book … the principal needs to be brought to book,” Mokgatlhe said.
She said the principal will, firstly, have to explain how the teachers had failed to socially, physically, distance from each other, “he needs to explain why it has happened”.
Mokgatlhe said for the department, safety at schools remains a priority in the wake of Covid-19.
She reiterated what the department has said repeatedly that no schools would reopen until they were deemed ready in terms of adherence to Covid-19 precautionary measures, with social distancing being the key measure to determine readiness.
“We want to make it physical, body to body,” Mokgatlhe said.
She said an incident such as the one pictured at Hoërskool Driehoek is not allowed at all and that the department would have to “understand why that happened”, whether it could have possibly been due to a lack of understanding about Covid-19 precautionary measures.
“We want an explanation,” she said, adding that she could not say what action would be taken until the department has received this from the principal, “because he is risking everything that we stand for. We are trying to protect the teachers, himself too, and the learners. So if they are going to sit around the table, no distancing, he has to explain what happened. He can’t tell us about lunch.”
Mokgatlhe said: “teachers are meant to be examples for learners”.
The department will now gather Covid-19 data from schools across the country every three days, Mokgatlhe said, this was decided following the minister’s, Angie Motshekga’s virtual meeting with provincial departments that took place on Thursday.
Hoërskool Driehoek school principal Ricardo Erasmus said he has spoken to the teachers pictured in the complaint sent via email and said that he has determined that the teachers were having “a snack”, adding that he has addressed this with the teachers and reminded them of the Covid-19 precautionary measures and they have since committed to adhering to them.
The spokesperson for the Gauteng department of education, Steve Mabona, had not responded to questions at the time of publication.