Parents agonise between rock and hard place over schools reopening

According to the provincial department of education, mandatory home schooling is required for pupils whose parents opt to keep them at home for the rest of 2020.
According to the provincial department of education, mandatory home schooling is required for pupils whose parents opt to keep them at home for the rest of 2020.
Image: 123rf.com/ PAYLESSIMAGES

Parents who do not send their children back to school in 2020 for fear of Covid-19 are required to deregister their children — but many are unhappy about this.

According to the provincial department of education, mandatory home schooling is required for pupils whose parents opt to keep them at home for the rest of 2020.

Department spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said the situation was unavoidable as it was the law for children to be in school.

“It is understandable that parents may want to opt out of taking their children back to school.

“However, the law states that if your child is not in school, then they must be home schooled.

“They can’t just stay at home and do nothing,” Pulumani said.

Pulumani said a “hybrid”,  which would allow schools to provide continued learning support for pupils at home, would help ease the anxiety of parents.

But primary school parent Aretha Linden said schools that were “forcing” children to deregister had given parents an ultimatum.

“I find this ultimatum very unfair, especially after the president indicated that the country is heading into a Covid-19 storm,” Linden said.

“As parents we find ourselves having to choose between sending our children to school in the middle of this anticipated storm and keeping them home, risking their academic progression.

“There are no other options provided, such as online learning support.”

Parent Lester Madubela said: “I hope parents from schools that have been given this ultimatum could take it up with the relevant authorities. It can’t be right.” 

Grade 1 parent Philasande Moses said: “It’s not fair. My child was supposed to go back last week but I didn’t take her back.

“I’m scared she might get infected. Instead I’m the one who caught the virus and I informed the class teacher.

“I’m still paying school fees but I get anxious when I think about her going to school.” 

Reuben Siqaza, school governing body chairperson (SGB) at Byletts Combined School in Mooiplaas,  said very few of their parents had the resources to home-school their children.

“Most parents at the school live on farms and in remote towns and villages.

“When I look at it, our parents wouldn’t even have an option to keep their children at home for home schooling.

“So they have no other option but to take their children back to school, no matter the fear.

“Fortunately for us, during the lockdown things have been running smoothly at the school.

“We’ve been blessed with no Covid-19 cases,” Siqaza said.

Mabini Mnguphane, SGB chair at Vuluhlanga High School in Butterworth, said: “Parents are sceptical of sending their children back to school, understandably so.

“But home schooling wouldn’t be an option at all.

“Most of us parents don’t even have a high school qualification, so how would we teach our children? 

“Then there is the issue of virtual learning resources.

“Most parents and children live in rural communities where an internet connection can be a challenge.

“It seems as though parents have no choice but to take their children back to school, or they will fall behind academically,” Mnguphane said.


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