DA welcomes phased reopening of schools, calls for weekly updates on readiness

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The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, confirming the phased reopening of all schools on 1 June 2020 for Grades 7 and 12.

We are of the view that the decision to safely reopen schools on a phased basis will ultimately be in the best interest of learners to ensure that they complete their academic year.

However, there are many details still to be unpacked. And the major challenge now will be the implementation of safety measures to ensure that learners, teachers and school staff will be safe. Once personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitation resources and other measures have been delivered to schools, we will have a true reflection on the safety and readiness of schools.

The DA has noted that auditors will monitor the progress of schools in this regard. We too will be doing our own monitoring. The DA will insist that schools that are not ready, should not open. We also call on the Minister to ensure that progress reports are shared with Parliament and the public on a weekly basis in the run-up to the reopening, as well as afterwards. These updates will be crucial in determining the phased return of the remaining grades.

We reiterate our call that a protocol is developed by the Department and provinces to determine when and why each individual school may open or close in difficult situations, for instance, if a number of learners or teachers become ill, or where an infection “hotspot” is identified.

Furthermore, should parents not send their children to school out of concern for the spread of the virus or because of underlying conditions, they should be responsible for ensuring that their children do the school work required from them.

The Department and provinces have a mammoth task ahead of the reopening of schools. We urge provincial departments to remain focused on this task and call on the national department to provide open and transparent updates on its progress.

The DA will keep a close eye throughout this period, and will not falter in our oversight role to ensure that our children are safe and healthy when they return to school.