GEORGE NEWS - The Congress of South African Students (Cosas) is concerned about the health of learners due to the way the Covid-19 pandemic is handled at schools and are demanding that schools close to be properly deep-cleaned.
Regional coordinator of Cosas and a matric learner at Thembalethu High School, Lifa Scritch, said to avoid spreading fear, schools tend to keep quiet about learners or teachers who are Covid positive, but this is causing distrust.
They want learners and teachers who have tested positive, as well as those who have been in contact with Covid-positive people, to stay home.
He said it is unfair of the department to still keep schools open when a learner tests positive.
Once all the schools have been properly cleaned, things can go back to normal.
Last week Wednesday, 8 July, Cosas staged a protest in Thembalethu, with local Cosas leadership rounding up learners from primary and high schools and taking to the streets to have their voices heard. Scritch said they had “closed down” a number of schools for the day, including Thembalethu High and MM Mateza Primary, and said they would extend the protest to other schools that don’t comply.
On the day of the protest, Scritch said they wanted the MEC of Education to come and engage with learners who have to go through difficult situations every day. He said the learners are the ones in the classrooms having to brave the fear of getting sick, and the least the minister could do was to hear their plight.
Kerry Mauchline, spokesperson for Western Cape Minister of Education Debbie Schäfer, said this week that Schäfer has in fact already been engaging with provincial Cosas leadership. The latest meeting was last week. She said the engagements were positive and productive.
The Minister said that some of Cosas’ demands, such as testing every learner for Covid-19, are not feasible. However, the WCED has designated an official whom Cosas leadership can call when they are concerned about the implementation of safety protocols at a particular school.
Scritch listed a number of other demands regarding schooling for the rest of 2020. According to him, they want the final examinations to be postponed until learners are ready, or for the examination papers to be trimmed because the Class of 2020 has already faced a lot of challenges this year.
Cosas also want all other grades to be automatically promoted to the next grade (meaning Grade 11 learners will be in matric), and for the focus to be on Grade 7s and matriculants. “It will be very hard for learners to obey the lockdown regulations at schools since there is poor infrastructure. Find alternative ways to rescue the academic year like sending Grade 7 and matriculants to campsites to complete their studies,” he said. They want the department to find proper measures at schools to protect learners against Covid19.
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