The pressure is mounting against the Education Department, and Angie Motshekga is now confronted with a grim reality that she hoped would never manifest itself. After several major teaching unions – including Sadtu – demanded that teachers refuse to into work, the country is left asking one major question: Will schools close?
Deputy Minister for the Department of Basic Education, Reginah Mhaule, shared a statement on behalf of Motshekga on Wednesday morning. The document confirms that the ministry will be entering into discussions with ‘key stakeholders’, and a decision on how schools will go forward is expected before Monday
“Minister Angie Motshekga will engage in broad consultations with all stakeholders in the basic education sector. The purpose of these meetings is to obtain input on the issue regarding the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it will affect our schools. We expect the consultation to be concluded by Friday.”
“These engagements will inform the minister’s proposals to the Cabinet this weekend. Once all engagements have been concluded, an announcement will be made. We wish to restate that the decision to reopen schools was made collectively by Cabinet. For now, schools remain open until further notice.”Education Department statement, addressing the subject of ‘will schools close?’
With South Africa now registering more total cases than the UK, and positive tests rising by over 10 000 a day in the past week, the COVID-19 peak has well and truly arrived. Although this surge could last through to September, several new lockdown restrictions have been introduced to help SA cope with the pressure on hospitals.
During his latest presidential address on Sunday, Cyril Ramaphosa did not address the subject of schools. The vacuum of speculation will now intensify, as crunch talks over the next few days are set to decide whether the department’s ‘back to school plans’ live to fight another day, or if they’ll simply become another COVID-19 victim:
Basic Education Minister to meet with all stakeholders in the sector to obtain input regarding the issue of the Covid19 peak, as it relates to schools. Thereafter, an announcement will be made @DBE_SA @ElijahMhlanga @GovernmentZA @SAgovnews @NationalCoGTA @The_NECT pic.twitter.com/Iw4cw6YaX0— Dr Reginah Mhaule (@ReginahMhaule) July 15, 2020