Open schools will increase spread of Covid-19, says Maimane

In an effort to challenge the education departments decision to reopen schools in the Pretoria High Court, One South Africa chief activist Mmusi Maimane says the movement has lodged a bid to suspend the reopening of schools for a period of 60 days.

The matter, which is to challenge the reopening of schools, was heard by a full bench of judges led by Judge Dunstan Mlambo on Thursday.

Outside court, Maimane pointed out that schools he had visited were severely underprepared to open in facing the coronavirus pandemic. Schools did not have the necessary resources and, as a result, were unable to put adequate measures in place to combat the virus and protect pupils.

Although he lost an initial bid to delay the reopening of schools, he sought a supervisory order to ensure there was a plan for all schools to remain prepared, while the country paddled further into a "new norm".

"That plan pertains to making sure kids are transported well, that all schools have Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and that all schools have sanitation and that ultimately we build a South Africa upon which there is equitable education. Covid-19 has given us an opportunity to hit the reset button and start again," he said in a PowerFM interview.

Maimane argues that government can only ease the lockdown regulations if there was a reduction in the number of daily infections. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma disagrees with the view and says government never said downward shifts in the alert level system would happen as a direct proportion to the improvement of the health statistics.

Maimane maintains the department has little to no regard in regards to the realities of health and safety, and that the schools were not yet ready to receive the millions of pupils across the country.

Opening schools will result in a spike in infections, leaving many children ill.

Maimane is not the only one gunning for the department as the Educators' Union of South Africa, Equal Education Law Centre and Section 27 have all lined up to challenge Motshekga in court.

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