A South African teachers union calls for delayed reopening until safety guarantee

Teachers affiliated with Sadtu have been urged to stay at home by the teachers union if the coronavirus safety concerns are not addressed.

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has urged its members not to return to work when the schools reopen. The teachers union indicated that the Education Ministry had failed to fulfill safety measures against coronavirus it had promised before asking teachers to return to schools.

The Teachers union directive

The teachers union urged all its members who were planning to travel to their places of work to stay at home for their own safety. Their frustration was directed to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, who they said had not delivered on her promises.

The announcement by the union has left many teachers, schools and the ministry of education in confusion on how to proceed with a section of teachers threatening to stay away. The Sadtu also urged other teachers who would want to join their stayaway movement to join them in asking for better working conditions post coronavirus lockdowns.

Sadtu general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said they had already submitted their non-negotiable terms to the education ministry, which included ensuring schools are safe for teachers and students to return without fear of coronavirus infection.

Education Ministry promises on school reopenings

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga promised that her ministry would fumigate and disinfect schools before students returned. She also said that measures on social distancing would also be implemented in the schools countrywide. Masks, soaps and sanitizers would also be provided by the ministry for free to curb the spread of the virus once the schools resume.

The minister also promised the safety of students while traveling. She said social distancing measures would be observed to keep the students safe, classes will be expanded in size and reduced in the number of students who will be more spaced out.

Maluleke said the suggestion that teachers should return to work without ensuring their safety is unlawful. Until the government is able to provide the personal protective equipment (PPE), the general secretary said his teachers union will continue urging its members to stay home.


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