Limpopo’s Provincial Coronavirus Command Council has accused some teachers of submitting fake doctor’s certificates on their vulnerability to Covid-19 because of comorbidities to avoid returning to work on 6 July.
In a statement released after its meeting last Sunday, the council said education authorities had received more than 700 applications from teachers to be exempt from attending school due to comorbidities, but only 400 had been granted.
It said they were seeing suspicious medical certificates being provided with applications “from a certain section of doctors”.
When asked for more clarity, Premier Stan Mathabatha’s spokesperson Kenny Mathivha said: “The health department, with the assistance of police, is investigating as it is believed that some of the doctors and the medical certificates are fake.”
Mathivha said there was a protocol in government that states that people 55 years or older and with comorbidities should not report for duty. He added: “The form [to be filled in] requires disclosure for the disease.
“But some teachers are going to their private doctors. They submit certificates that don’t conform to protocol.”
However, the Professional Educators’ Union has dismissed the accusations. Its provincial secretary, Mosadi Sekwadi, said authorities were trying to force teachers to break patient-doctor confidentiality.
“Who are they to argue against doctors’ pronouncements. Let them bring their own doctors and assess the teachers.
“They can’t just go out and accuse other professionals of wrongdoing,” Sekwadi said.
All teachers and pupils are expected to return to school on Monday as positive cases of Covid-19 stand at 14 in schools in the province. So far, three schools have been closed due to infections being detected.
The command council said 46 800 additional classrooms were needed before the 963 000 pupils returned to school.
To meet the challenge, a rotational model of teaching in about 80% of schools would be adopted, meaning that some pupils may have to attend classes on specific days of the week.
“The application of this model will not affect Grade 12 classes, ” the council said.
However, Sekwadi said the rotational model may have a negative impact on the completion of the syllabus. “It comes back to the question of inequality in education,” she said.
Parliament’s portfolio committee on education was last week briefed about schools reopening.
But Democratic Alliance provincial leader Jacques Smalle, who also sits on the committee, expressed doubt that the province was ready for the reopening.
He said the department had indicated that for every pupil in the province to be provided with at least two masks, a total of 2.9 million were needed from the provincial department.
“I’m concerned all the schools will not be ready. We must just expect a mixture of good and bad next week,” Smalle said.
Education executive committee member Polly Boshielo is expected to provide more information this week.