‘We are fearful for our lives and the lives of the learners’-Teachers open up about going back to classrooms

The department has said its time to get back to school, but what do the teachers think?

Last week, the department of education laid out their plans for the phased-in approach they are taking to getting kids back to school to resume the 2021 school year which was interrupted by the spread of the coronavirus in the country. 

The announcement has been met with opposition from various quarters with parents expressing that they’re concerned that while the government and health department is encouraging employees who can work from home to do so, the department of education is telling parents that they should send their kids back to school. 

Here are the teacher’s views on the plans announced by the department last week :

“As an educator, I feel that for the rest of the year the schools should remain closed. We are in a fortunate position that online teaching can take place. Having said that many can’t access the information due to data restriction and so forth. I believe that private schools are more equipped to have the resources needed for the sanitation of schools and lucky enough to have access to running water and sanitation. 

We can sanitize our schools daily. However social distancing is still a challenge for younger kids and even some older ones. Even though statistically its shown that younger children are not so much at risk…I am also a parent and as a parent, I don’t want to put my child at risk or have him becoming that first child to die due to the virus. I feel that maybe our school year should start once the peak of the virus is over.” – Anonymous

Also Read: Here’s government’s plan to keep schools clean and safe once they re-open

“Teachers are now placed under pressure to assure parents that the curriculum will be taught in the shortest amount of time. Some teachers are feeling overwhelmed at the responsibility of managing a highly contagious virus inside a classroom of mostly over 30 learners, some 60 learners in a classroom. With social distancing and sterile environments almost impossible to ensure when working with children. Also, what if parents choose to keep their children at home?

Logistically, teachers are not pleased to return to work, knowing that structures are not yet in place to assure the safety of their leaners as well as themselves. Teachers with comorbidities are more likely to contract the virus than others. 

Another question on teachers’ minds is: What provision will be made for teachers’ children when we need to return to work and their grade is not attending school as yet? We know that the normal school day, will not look the same way again.” –Lauren Morgenrood

Also Read: What does back-to-school look like for kids around the world?

“I think the department needs to do a proper planning process including the readiness of the school facilities and learners need to get proper orientation in terms of using their masks and washing their hands properly. There should also be proper screening done before we enter the school premises. All of us as staff, together with the learners. 

There should also be sanitizers installed in all the classrooms, corridors, and bathrooms. I’m skeptical at the moment about going back to school whilst the number of people infected is still increasing. I am also scared about us coming together at schools without getting a proper screening.”- Anonymous

Also read: Matrics to write combined exam in November

“I believe that it’s too risky and not well thought of. Teachers are fearful for their lives and the lives of the learners. We are also concerned about us affecting our family members at home. The DBE said that they will be giving PPE to quintile 1-3 schools only. 

Therefore, only underprivileged schools will have the advantage of hygiene products. That is irresponsible and unfair, especially now that most parents are facing financial constraints. Again the DBE does not realize that many quintiles 4 and 5 schools serve learners from poor areas such as informal settlements. Why are different schools being disadvantaged? We are all in the same boat.” Anonymous

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