As positive cases in the country increase, the African Transformation Movement (ATM) supports the motion to temporarily close schools, in averting a further spike in cases that test positive in schools, further affecting the process of learning and teaching. 

Since June 2020, the Gauteng MEC of Education confirmed a number of 176 affected schools that have been affected by the coronavirus, and further reports from various provinces such as the Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu – Natal have also given merit to the fear that learners and teachers are at higher risk of contracting the virus. 

South Africa currently has over 25 000 schools, catering for well over 12 million pupils, a number the currently burdened health system cannot accommodate should any unfavourable occurrence take place. This needs active mitigation which will allow for the successful management of these numbers not to contract the virus at once. 

As we move towards a strengthened level 3, announced by President Ramaphosa, we should also take into account that the active plugging of pupils means that other dependent sectors, such as the transport industry, have to operate at 100%, which then defeats the purpose of flattening the curve because learners are more likely to contract the virus from anywhere and spread it at school. 

Needless to say, this places parents and the elderly at an even higher risk of succumbing to the virus, as they have been identified as high risk individuals. 

ATM is of the view that children are the future of this country and must be kept safe at all times, and therefore advises that if the Department of Basic Education so desperately wants to save the remainder of the academic year, it should ensure that SABC Education (TV & Radio) must be rendered an essential service, running at least 8 hours a day, normal programming be changed to accommodate the educational changes. 

It is against this background that we call for the closure of schools, standing in support with teachers’ unions and other organisations citing similar utterances. 

Minister Angie Motshega must put the people of South Africa first, and think of the ripple effect that the continuing with the school term could have in other ministries such as health and finance. 

Issued by the African Transformation Movement. 

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