Unions have asked to meet Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga urgently to iron out details in the plan to reopen schools.
The meeting is aimed at addressing the school reopening and the staffing of district and circuit offices, ensuring that a list of “non-negotiable” measures is in place at schools.
In a joint statement, the unions, NATU, Naptosa, PEU, Sadtu and SAOU, said principals shouldn’t return to work until all facilities are sanitised and safety measures to ensure the health of staff are in place.
Schools are expected to open to school management teams (SMT) on 11 May and classes are expected to resume on 1 June for Grade 7 and matric pupils.
The SMTs should only be required to plan timetables and how to receive teachers and support staff. Their duty is not to supervise infrastructure or fixing of schools, the statement stressed.
“It’s not the duty of the SMTs to install sanitisers nor to deep cleanse the schools. That is the work of public works or the infrastructure unit of the department. The SMTs will have to tick the list of the completed work and determine if the teachers and support personnel can return to work,” the statement read.
Some of the measures that will need to be in place before principals can return to the schools are screenings, sanitisers and the provision of personal protective equipment.
The unions are also calling on district and circuit offices to not require principals to return to the schools before 11 May.
The unions have requested the urgent meeting with the education minister to understand the reopening of district and circuit offices, and the required number of staff, as well as to monitor progress on implementing a “non-negotiable” checklist of requirements for staff safety.
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Should the safety measures not be in place, workers may not return to work, the unions have stressed.
“Workers will not be expected to report for duty because there will be no safety. The law requires that the employer guarantees a safe workplace for the employees. The unions shall request the minister to regulate or reduce her presentation into a circular with all the details to assist the circuit, districts and head offices on the one-third of the workforce that may return to work, as required under Alert Level 4.”
The unions are also requesting a circular addressing regulations for special schools, pre-schools and employees with pre-existing conditions, among others.
The regulations should also address the treatment of combined schools when both Grade7 and Grade 12 pupils report on the same day at the same school.
“They must further provide clarity on boarding schools as it relates to hostels. All these things are critical to avoid any loss of life,” the statement read.
Previously, unions agreed to meet the minister on 11 May.
However, they say the date has to be brought forward to accommodate the new start date.