SADTU calls on DBE and DOH to convene an urgent meeting on the unilateral decision that violates the isolation protocols during the writing of final examinations

5 November 2020

The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) strongly condemns the unilateral decision of the Department of Basic Education (DBE), together with the Department of Health to allow learners who might have tested positive during the writing of examinations to write in isolation but in the same schools or examination centres where other learners are writing.

The unfortunate and unilateral decision is in violation of the isolation protocols of the Department of Health which state that once tested positive, an individual must isolate. The isolation means not to move from an area to the other until the end of the prescribed duration.

The right of the learners to write the examination is guaranteed and must happen under a conducive environment. The learner has to be put in isolation for the duration of the isolation period as prescribed by the Department of health and a school or examination centre is not an isolation or quarantine site.

The Department of Health has, in terms of the current protocols, an obligation to provide an isolation site with both psychosocial and health support at the isolation and a quarantine site. Should the parents and the learner decide that the learner continues with the writing of the examinations that should happen at the isolation site under the invigilation of health personnel. This is to ensure that during the isolation, the learner in confined to one area and receives support to address his/her mental health.

SADTU, as a stakeholder in education was not consulted about this decision which violates the COVID 19 Standard Operating Procedures. We therefore call upon the DBE and DOH to convene an urgent meeting to address this matter as it affects both external and internal examinations.

We fully understand that isolation can increase anxiety levels amongst learners and we therefore call on the department to ensure the provision of psychosocial services and health facilities to these learners.

Further, we call on the Department of Basic Education not to force teachers to invigilate in these facilities but to use health professionals.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157