Today, 25th January 2021, sees the first batch of staff return to school ahead of students and educators. This is, of course, according to the updated calendar put in place by the Department of Education (DBE) earlier this month.
The calendar involves three important dates of which today is the first:
- Monday, 25 January 2021 – The Principal, School Management Teams (SMTs) including Education Assistants and General Assistants (Basic Education Employment Initiative) and non-teaching staff must return to school;
- Monday, 01 February 2021 – All educators must return to school;
- Monday, 15 February 2021 – All learners must return to school.
While this dates were already delayed they do not come with much confidence. This is because South Africa continues to be in a worrying second wave of COVID-19. According to the official numbers from the government 8 147 new cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the country in the last 24 hours together with 300 new deaths.
This past week the country was also rocked by the death of Minister Jackson Mphikwa Mthembu who passed due to complications from COVID-19. The minister was laid to rest this weekend. The high infection numbers and death of public figures does not have educators and learners enthused about the return to school.
Despite this the DBE has banked on safety measures being in place and, on top of this, warns of school staff not reporting for duty today.
“Educators and/or Support Staff who fail to report for duty as stipulated without a valid and approved reason subject themselves to disciplinary action being taken against them. All other cases of absenteeism are to be dealt with in terms of the relevant leave provisions as provided for in the Personnel Administrative Measures (PAM),” reads a statement from the department.
The DBE goes on to appeal to staff to steak to health and safety measures to keep everyone safe, will also advising against engaging in “unprotected action”.