Concerned parents and students are urging the government to leave schools closed until the end of the year or at least until the virus has stopped spreading.
Since the news that South African schools will begin a phased return as of May 6, parents across the country have been gripped with worry over the safety of their children.
A petition has since been started urging the government to reconsider this decision and keep schools closed for the safety and mental health of learners as well as teachers.
“As we all know our society is in the grips of an epidemic that the world was not prepared for and now students are expected to go to school which is an already stressful place. Our society is saturated with the possibility of illness and death, students can’t be expected to be put in an environment that risks their health or lives furthermore students are going to be cramming copious amounts of work which will affect students grades and mental health,” reads the petition.
As of April 30, the petition has garnered over 100 000 signatures and rising. Followers are demanding that the government focus on managing and dealing with the epidemic and take stress off of teachers and students by allowing the school year to be cancelled.
The petition appears to have been started by a grade 12 pupil and makes a plea from the viewpoint of a student.
“Please as a grade 12 student this is an especially hard time for me personally I can’t cope with school, family being ill and lack of funds for food and I know I’m not alone so I’m begging for this as a solution as school is my biggest stresser right now,” says the petition.
Many have signed in support of the petition including other students and teachers.
Teacher, Chavonn Pietersen says, “I am a teacher and care about the lives of my collegues and learners”. Parent, Sidieka Hajat says,” I don’t think safe for kids to go as no social distancing in school and smaller kids immune systems are very low”.
While it remains to be seen if the education department will heed the words and requests of concerned South Africans, the petition continues to gain support.