Let's not gamble with our children's lives

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in light of the increasing rise in cases of COVID-19 infections, the decision by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, to reopen all schools on 1 June 2020 is a risky and dangerous gamble with the lives of our nation’s young people.

As a father and an uncle, I fundamentally disagree with this rushed and ill-advised decision. Therefore I'm calling on all South Africans – including teachers, parents, principals and SGBs – to make their voices heard on this matter of national importance and join us in our call for the Minister to reverse this unwise decision. 

We maintain that opening schools at this stage poses a risk and danger to all students, teachers and support staff as all credible indicators suggest that infections have not yet peaked. We cannot risk allowing our country’s places of learning to become petri dishes for increases in infections which may undo the value of the national lockdown.

Our proposal for schools to remain closed for a further three-month period is the most sensible choice. This will allow every school sufficient time to implement a “Roadmap to Reopening” – a checklist of prerequisites that must be satisfied before any school is declared safe to reopen. 

Section 28(2) of our Constitution states that “a child's best interests are of paramount importance in every matter concerning the child”. The Minister gave very little reassurance that her decision adheres to this fundamental right.

Based on the Minister’s address and the data at hand, it seems highly unlikely all 24 000 schools across South Africa, many without basic infrastructure and water supply, will be COVID-proof within the coming days.

We call on the Minister of Education to reconsider her rushed and ill-advised decision to reopen all schools on 1 June 2020.