Advice from a South African teacher on going back to school...
Photo Cred: The Conversation

The best way to embrace our new normal is to PREPARE … and be realistic.


Johannesburg, South Africa (03 June 2020) – A teacher from Benoni has shared advice for all parents on kids going back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schools will reopen on 8 June 2020 for grade 7 and 12 learners to allow for the orientation and training of teachers. The Council of Education Ministers (CEM) decided to continue to reopen schools on 01 June 2020. Still, with School Management Teams (SMT), teachers and non-teaching staff only arriving to prepare for the arrival of learners.

“Provincial and district officials should ensure that health, safety, and social distancing requirements are strictly adhered to when teachers arrive. This whole coming week must be used for the proper orientation and training of teachers, the mopping and ramping of all supply chain matters, and final touches to the readiness of each facility for the arrival of learners,” said the Basic Education Department (DBE).

The department had initially planned to kick start its phased reopening from 1 June 2020 provided that health, safety, and social distancing requirements are in place.

The uncertainty of what this means for children has left many parents anxious, but Storm Dance, a teacher from Benoni, has shared some advice on how to prepare.

I have been back at school for three days …

Let me just share my feelings and thoughts with you for what they worth.

Myself as an adult, as the grown-up, as a teacher it has been absolute HELL to wear my mask constantly I feel like I can’t breathe. I am constantly pulling at it wanting to rip it off my face. Never mind abiding by the new regulations that come with COVID-19 and the return to school. I know and understand the reasons why we need all this more than my children coming back to school.

Parents do you understand that your children will have to wear their masks for 6 hrs without taking them off, can you do that? Have you tried to do that? They don’t get to go into their own office to take it off to have a break from wearing their mask. To breathe normally for 2 minutes. Parents do you realise that from the time they exit your car until they return to your car at the end of the day they may not remove their masks.

My advice to parents is to start TRAINING your children to do their school activities with their masks on, to spend their first 6 hours of their day with their masks on, not touching their faces and staying 1 and a half to 2 meters away from you and their siblings. (NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS)

I have read so many of my mom friends posts about how excited your children are to come back to school; which is awesome but please stop and think… have you prepared your child enough to be really ready to come back to school?

Remember your children are so excited to come back to school… a school that is no longer there, the school that they remember is gone. They are excited to return to something that is now something of the past.

As your children’s teacher, as a TEACHER, I am so excited to see my children! My heart aches to see and teach my children face to face. We have been doing all we can to make sure that our distance learning is not only engaging and covering all bases but also finding ways to reach all our students. SOMETHING that I never believed in my wildest dreams would be part of my teaching career. I have taught myself and learnt and poured hours into my distance learning curriculum.

Going back is so hard for me too. I can’t allow them close. I can’t allow them to behave the way they always have. They are so desperate to come back and to continue with what they had known before this pandemic arrived.

But now I am a policewoman. I have to make sure that before they can run into school, they have to walk through a gauntlet of teachers in masks taking temperatures, sanitising them before they can walk along a marked out path to their classrooms. This big adventure they need to do alone as you, their parent is not allowed on the property.

They will then still be sprayed down with hand sanitiser throughout the day.

Constantly reminding them that they can’t touch their faces. Telling them when they are getting to close to anyone. Playtime for them will be constant reminders once again that they are not to get too close to their friends and that they don’t get to play touches or any games that they loved to play. To reprimand them when they don’t abide by these new rules. To shout and to stop them from doing the most natural actions that come so naturally to us as social human beings. These are all the new things we need to do to make sure that they and we abide by the new regulations. Regulations that I have battled to adhere to myself. To put all our safety first.

I am in no way against children and myself going back to school … I just think we need to be realistic of our new normal and prepare ourselves and more than anything PREPARE our children for this new way of life.

Start every day with a challenge of how long they can keep their masks on for!

Make a game with the whole family of not touching faces.

The best way to embrace our new normal is to PREPARE … and be realistic.

Sources: Storm Dance | Back to School 
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