SADTU Free State Media Statement on Re-opening of schools

31 May 2020

SADTU in Free State held its Special Provincial Executive Committee meeting today, the 31st May 2020 to reflect on the state of readiness by the Provincial Department of Education thus far. The PEC reflected on the progress made since the Union first issued communiqué to members not to report for work on the 11th May 2020 (SMTs) and teachers on 18 May 2020 as per the directive of the department. Since then, a communication forum for engagement between department and unions was created and meets on weekly basis.

The PEC further noted government notice 302 of 2020 regarding the re-opening of schools and measures to address, prevent and combat the spread of COVID-19 in the National Department of Basic Education, all provincial education departments, all education district offices and all schools in the Republic of South Africa. The notice articulates measures to be taken on schools and offices that would have complied and those not complying with the minimum health, safety and social distancing measures on COVID-19.

We also considered the outcome of collaborative meetings between department of education and labour formations in the province where decisions are communicated through departmental circulars for uniformity.

The following issues were noted as progress of the collaborative work with the insistence of unions:

  • Travel permits were issued to employees as compliance to lockdown regulations. This would make travel movements from residential areas to work and also for those travelling between provinces
  • Distribution of basic hygienic packages:
    • Sanitizers
    • Disinfectants
    • Cloth masks
    • Soap
    • Infra-red Thermometers

Decentralisation of some services to schools with department taking financial responsibility:

  • Disinfecting of schools
  • Appointments of contract screeners
  • Appointment of contract cleaners

The meeting noted that Free State department of education has also procured visor masks for teachers to be able to communicate with learners during lesson presentations. We however, noted some grey areas that pose a health risk at workplaces and need to be urgently attended to by department as follow:

  • provisioning of one outstanding cloth masks (2 per teacher) as only one mask was allocated,
  • masks for learners not delivered to schools,
  • some schools are still not deep cleaned,
  • screening of teachers not properly handled in some schools due to health practitioners not available whilst process of appointing screeners is underway,
  • water challenge in some schools
  • dilapidated toilets and
  • broken doors and windows
  • Disposable protective gear for cleaners

We noted the collectiveness of different stakeholders at national level and the outcome of the engagements with Minister of Education.

SADTU in Free State therefore calls upon parents not to send their children to schools on 01 June 2020 as the system is not ready. The delay will afford the department to work on the grey areas that the union has identified. Teachers will need time to be trained on COVID-19 and the trimmed curriculum.

We further urge members that upon reporting for duty on Monday, 01 June 2020 they report to their structures any deviation and non-compliance to the precautionary measures. In situations where their health is put at risk due non-compliance they should not stay at the unsafe environment.

SADTU in the province noted the increasing rate of infections in the country and therefore calls upon her members and citizens in the province to subject themselves to voluntary testing to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

SADTU Free State remains committed to collaboration with other stakeholders and will ensure that members are not harassed because of pressure exerted by the department. We further call upon the department of education to expedite the implementation of the joint decisions contained in the different circulars that were dispatched to schools.

ISSUED BY PROVINCIAL SECRETARIAT

Mokholoane Bricks Moloi: Provincial Secretary:   0768112777
Frank Kedibone: Provincial Deputy Secretary: 0798863317