Parents across various social media platforms expressed varying points of view, ranging from disappointment and frustration to applauding the government for acting in the best interests of the country.
The Department of Basic Education recently announced that schools’ reopening would be delayed by two-weeks, to February 15. South African public schools were scheduled to reopen on January 27 while most private schools had already kick-started their 2021 academic year.
Deputy Minister of Education Regina Mhaule said public and private schools would delay reopenings, subject to the private schools’ calendar. Teachers at public schools will be required to be back at schools on February 1, while learners will return on February 15.
A parent said on Facebook: “I understand their reasoning and the rising of Covid… but, as a parent, I need to go back to work, who do I leave my child with? Now parents either source additional day care or risk having kids flood the streets?”
Another said children needed to go back to school or else the number of teenage pregnancies would rise.
“My child is totally gutted with this decision, she was looking to start high school, meeting new friends and experiencing all that high school has to offer,” another parent said.
Some parents suggested a phased-in approach while others were blunt. “Inadequate planning and slothfulness is depriving children to a basic right to education. The very same kids they are trying to protect and keep safe from the virus are on the streets, playing, no mask or social distancing.”
Meanwhile, a report conducted by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in the US confirmed findings from Europe that Covid-19 outbreaks were not driven by in-person classes. The return to in-person classes in nearly two-thirds of the US had not led to a rise in community outbreaks.
Disease rates in countries where in-person learning was available for school-aged children and adolescents was similar to areas where classes were entirely online. The report from news website, Bloomberg, concluded schools should be the last to close, and the first to reopen.