Teachers over the age of 60 who were on comorbidity absence and have been working from home will now be expected to return to work from Monday as the country moves to Level 1 of the lockdown, the Department of Basic Education has said.
According to a statement by the department on Saturday, more than 22 500 teachers were granted approval for concessions countrywide in terms of the Education Labour Relations Council’s Collective Agreement 1 of 2020.
The agreement was aimed at providing a concession for teachers employed in terms of Act 78 of 1998 of Employment of Educators Act who are affected due to risk factors relating to Covid-19.
The agreement, dated 30 May 2020, was signed by the department’s director-general Mathanzima Mweli and South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) general-secretary Mugwena Maluleke.
It stated the department had put appropriate measures in place to accommodate teachers who were at high risk, had comorbidities or were over the age of 60.
The agreement read: “Employees who have comorbidities and those who are 60 years and above will remain home on full pay subject to all requirements…”
It also allowed those who had comorbidities and were 60 years and above, but who wished to continue reporting for duty at schools, to agree with principals and for relevant measures to be in place to ensure their safety.
The agreement, however, noted the concessions granted would only be applicable for the duration of levels 3 and 2.
“The implication of the announcement by [President Cyril Ramaphosa] of moving the country to alert Level 1 means the concessions to work from home will no longer apply from midnight on Sunday 20 September 2020,” the department said.
“There are instances where substitute teachers have been appointed in the place of educators who been granted a concession to work from home. As teachers with comorbidities will return to school on Monday, the provincial education department should honour the contractual obligations entered into between the substitute educators and the provincial department.”
It added all affected employees would now have to report for duty from Monday, but if some were still not well, they would be required to “follow the normal sick leave protocols”.
Principals have also been advised to rework timetables as of Monday and school management teams and school governing bodies have been advised to ensure requirements for physical distancing were met as per the department’s standard norms and standards under Covid-19.
Schools must also put in place appropriate adjustments for physical distancing and for the timetable to accommodate a certain percentage of the total pupil population who would be attending on a specific day.