Dr Lutz van Dijk, Clovelly
Concerns by parents and teachers in Covid-19 times about safety are most understandable, but let us try to avoid fears and panic where actually correct information and support are needed.
The present situation confronts all schools with extreme challenges in order to have as much safety as possible:
Every child and adult needs to sanitise hands, and face masks must be worn correctly before entering the school. Then the temperature of every learner and teacher has to be checked and recorded every morning. Those who show even mild symptoms are sent home with a report for the parents. When teaching can finally start, it is only possible in small groups which creates many more hours of teaching.
While other schools can use home teaching with Zoom or Skype, this is impossible for most pupils in Masiphumelele, where many families have not even enough food, let alone access to the internet and laptops.
With this background, I applaud both schools in Masiphumelele for doing a great job under most challenging circumstances. In the first week of re-opening schools in the Western Cape, more than 100 teachers were tested positive for Covid-19 and 16 schools had to be closed temporarily for decontamination. This will happen again in the future in a number of schools.
But the crucial point is how many Masiphumelele children can keep social distance at home or even wash their hands as much as suggested by the health minister? I am convinced that many children are more safe if they go to school where their health is monitored and where teachers can be role models in showing safe behaviour.
As far as I can judge from a personal knowledge over many years, the wellbeing of all members of the school community is at the heart of both Mr Tyhali, the principal of Ukhanyo Primary, and Mr Mafrika, the Masiphumelele High principal, and their deputies and school governing bodies.
Private medical records of teachers cannot be disclosed by the principal or the department.
Internal school communication about any concern is crucial indeed, but should not be done in public. And for those who can, please support both schools. For their banking details, contact Mr Tyhali at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Masiphumelele High secretary Ms Gaji at Nomonde.Gaji@wcgschools.gov.za