Covid-19 is still keeping a number of teachers and pupils with underlying health conditions at home, but there is no clear plan from the department of education on how these pupils will be assessed and write their exams.
Loyiso Mbinda, Eastern Cape CEO of the teachers union Naptosa, said there was no “plan to paper” from the provincial department on what “needs to be done”.
Attendance numbers at Eastern Cape schools had not reached 100% since the start of the national lockdown, he said, adding that the challenge of pupils with comorbidities was “not being taken seriously”.
“The only indication we have from the department is that there could be pupils with underlying conditions but there are no clear and direct stats.”
Mbinda said some pupils had tablet devices to continue with virtual school programmes, but not every school had access to this learning aid.
“There needs to be a programme of action to address these challenges,” Mbinda said.
At Vukuhambe Special School in Mdantsane, there was no plan in place for pupils with comorbidities to complete their exams or undergo other assessments, according to the school governing body.
The school governing body chair, Amanda Someketa, said attendance at the school was on a gradual rise.
“We suspect that parents are keeping their children away because of their underlying health conditions.”
“Teachers have continued to send work home to those pupils, but there is no plan yet on how they will complete their assessments from home,” Someketa said.
“It’s a big problem, and we are yet to figure it out. As parents we will be meeting with the school this week to discuss those issues.”
A teacher at a primary school in East London, who spoke to the Dispatch on condition of anonymity as teachers aren’t allowed to speak to the media, said there were pupils with underlying health conditions in their classes.
“The school came up with its own method and arrangement on how to assess the pupils, the department didn’t guide the school.”
The teacher said pupils with comorbidities were receiving weekly work-packs.
Parents would return work completed by their children to teachers at the school who marked the work on a weekly basis.
“When it comes to assessments or exams, those pupils will come to the school without the presence of other pupils to write.”
“The classrooms will be thoroughly sanitised before and after their arrival,” the teacher said.
Mxolisi Mbityi, a school governing body member at Makhazi Public School in Kei Mouth, said Makhazi had two teachers with underlying health conditions.
“One teacher died. The other teacher still works from home.
“We don’t have children with underlying health conditions and we haven’t received any information from the department on how to handle that matter,” Mbityi said.
In a letter to parents, Selborne Primary principal Riaan Bisschoff said the school had made arrangements for pupils with underlying health conditions that could pose a risk to their families.
Bisschoff said parents needed to contact the school and “request an exemption from attendance form which needs to be completed, with medical confirmation of the reasons for your request not to attend school”.
He said the form would be submitted to the department of education, “and if the reasons are valid you will be exempted from attending school”.
If parents’ applications were successful, he said the school would continue to provide distance learning, and “ensure” that pupils get “as much academic support as possible, while parents acknowledge that it can never be the same as if their son was actually in class”.
Education spokesperson Malibongwe Mtima said no pupils would be allowed to write exams from home.
“All learners those who are at home must come to the centre to write examinations and any other form of assessment.”
“Should any learner miss that, formal documentation must be submitted as to why and the department will make a determination whether to write or not based on the available evidence,” he said.
The department was unable to provide figures for pupils at home with underlying health conditions by print deadline on Tuesday.