South Africans have shared mixed feelings to the government’s announcement of the plan to get students and teachers back to school. As the number of positive Covid-19 cases rises, parents are expressing dissatisfaction with the decision by government. Many have taken to social media indicating they will not be sending their children to school.
At the same time teacher unions have also come out encouraging teachers not to go back to school. This is a growing concern with the academic year suffering parents and teachers alike are concerned about how students will catch up.
As we move into the winter season, which is also our flu season in South Africa the concern is higher now more than ever that should students be allowed to soon into the classroom there might be a much larger spread of the virus. Experts have also predicted much more infections and deaths in the country by the end of November.
We do commend the government for the way in which the lockdown has been implemented but what is astonishing is that if all adults are not allowed to go back to their work places then how is it logical to allow our children to be out there?
Schools have a larger make up of people than some offices. We have to understand the potential risk our children have of being in the forefront of a pandemic that is claiming lives. We can’t control what happens in the classroom.
In a classroom we know that children are prone to lending and borrowing stationary, they are also sharing lunch and sitting in close proximity with each other. As much as we can set rules there isn’t constant observation to ensure these rules are not being broken. The risk of the virus spreading is so much higher with children.
We also can’t ignore that our teachers will be dealing with challenges that they are not use to. Kids are often seen hugging their teacher at the start or end of each day. And for many this is essential. This is the comfort they have that they are appreciated.
Teachers themselves will have to constantly be practising hygiene by sanitising much more regularly. The question is where does this budget come from? Does the teacher have to bring in her own sanitiser or will this be provided for by the school? What about our children? The fascination of the sanitiser might see them going through so much the liquid that it would need constant replacing.
The reopening of schools to soon is a recipe for a disaster. We must acknowledge that schools, unlike a business requires a lot more attention. We may not be facing clients but the cleanliness is a priority. But this again might be difficult in some areas where water is at a scarcity.
As much as the opening of schools for now is limited to our grade 12 and 7 learners the reality is that some classes consist of 40 children. How does social distancing apply in this regard?
To parents and teachers, this is a humble a request to ensure your safety and your students’ safety. Educate your children of the importance of sanitising and physical distancing. As much as the journey back to school comes as a relief to students who will finally be able to be with their friends, they must maintain the distance to ensure they are adhering to the rules to prevent the spread of the virus.
Teachers this is going to be not just a challenge for you but a battle. You will need to keep your emotions at bay and deliver a classroom session without focusing on the possibility that the virus could spread. This is hard and it will create uneasiness and paranoia in your mind. But you must ensure your safety and the learner’s safety is a priority.
Encourage the learners at the start and end of every session on the importance of social distancing and how important it is to practise this in order to win back our lives from the corona virus. At the end of it all going to work or school will feel like a battle in the coming few weeks as everyday we go out trying to avoid the chances of getting the virus. The hope that should keep us going is that this to shall pass.
Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.