Western Cape schools resumed on Monday [June 1] amid much confusion as to whether this should be allowed. The Western Cape Department of Education (WCED) has assured parents that appropriate measures have been implemented to ensure the safety of learners, but a pair of unions has vowed to keep Education MEC Debbie Schäfer accountable if a student or teacher contracts COVID-19.
The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Satu) and Cosatu Western Cape on Tuesday [June 2] said that they would keep Schäfer personally accountable “for any flouting of health and safety regulations in the province”. They also added that they would not hesitate to lay criminal charges if students or teaching staff are infected by the coronavirus.
“We support parents who have taken the conscious decision, in the interest of their children’s safety, not to send their children to school on 1 June and salute our members who have been resolute in their stance on health and safety in our schools,” the unions said via a joint statement.
According to Schäfer, each child who is able to attend school must do so.
“That’s a fundamental right in the Constitution. I will not stop anybody who wants to teach a child, who is complying with the national minister’s Government Gazette and the security and safety precautions that we’ve put in place, unless a court tells me to stop,” she said during a “corona cast” with Acting Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen.
As reported by News24, the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has also said that it plans to approach the Western Cape High Court to get an interdict against the WCED. It plans to do this on the basis of the WCED resuming schools before the national reopening.