28 May 2020
On Wednesday morning, teachers at Enkululekweni Primary School in Kraaifontein, Cape Town, refused to go back to work.They protested in the school grounds and outside.
They said the principal had told them one of their colleagues had tested positive for Covid-19.
“We cannot risk our lives by going back to work. We need to do the tests before we can resume work,” said a teacher who did not want to be named.
Another teacher said, “We cannot allow learners to come back in this situation, and we are not only doing this for us but also for them and their families. The school should be closed until tests are done. Why are we rushing to open schools, yet this will endanger the lives of teachers, learners, and parents?”
The protesting teachers also wanted the school to be “fumigated”.
Western Cape education spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the department was unaware of the protest and the district office would follow up.
Hammond said due to the number of queries they were receiving and “unsubstantiated reporting on Covid-19 cases in schools on various platforms and in the media”, the department was busy verifying cases.
According to Hammond, schools are obliged to report any positive cases and a safety protocol is in place, which includes: identifying direct contacts, sanitising the relevant areas of the school, and supporting any affected staff members.
“Those who have been in close contact with a confirmed positive case are required to self-isolate for 14 days from their last contact with the individual and those not in close contact do not have to self-isolate,” said Hammond.
South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) provincial secretary Jonavon Rustin accused the management of the primary school and the district of acting “irresponsibly”.
“If someone tested positive for Covid-19 at the institution… the protocols need to be followed. We need to have everybody who has been in contact with the person isolated and tested,” said Rustin.
“We need to ensure that we don’t contribute to the spread of Covid-19,” he said.