The WCED is surveying the PPE situation at all schools
Statement by Bronagh Hammond, Director Communications; Western Cape Education Department
This morning, a newspaper headline read: “No more PPE for W Cape teachers”.
It is most unfortunate that the headline is factually incorrect and creates an inaccurate perception.
Here are the facts:
Last year the WCED provided over R450 million worth of safety materials to schools, including masks, sanitizer and cleaning materials. Delivery was done in tranches to schools – with the last deliveries happening in November last year. Some schools have reported that they have “too much” materials and are unable to store them adequately in their schools, which is also a safety concern.
The fact is that the WCED procured and delivered a year’s supply of material’s last year. Also, some schools implemented Temporary Revised Education Plans, and therefore, the daily learner attendance numbers at schools were lower, in many cases half per day, as well as extended school holidays, therefore utilization of the materials was such that large quantities of the materials are remaining for use this year.
To ensure that all schools have sufficient supplies, we issued an instruction on 17 January 2021 to Districts to survey the PPE situation at each school. We await these reports. SMTs only returned to schools on Monday 25 January 2021. Should a school indicate that there are large shortages, we will of course engage with the school.
It is accurate that in September 2020 we did write to schools informing them that if they had any shortages of PPE, they are to use of their 15% Norms and Standards allocations for expenditure on local purchases, which includes augmenting any personal protective equipment, if required. The WCED is required to advise schools on how their Norms and Standards funding is utilized. This applies to various areas of expenditure. Cleaning equipment, for example, has always come to the cost of the WCED through these Norms and Standards. To supplement additional cleaning materials is therefore nothing new!
We will have a clearer picture once we have received feedback on the survey. We expect that the large majority of schools have sufficient supplies that will take them deep into the school year.
The WCED also sent additional funding to primary schools at the end of 2020, to augment any PPE shortages, particularly with an emphasis on procuring masks that may be required for Grade 1 learners. We have not received any communication from principals directly indicating shortages.
We are confident that schools are in a position to be ready to receive learners safely. It would be unfortunate if inaccurate media reports add to the anxiety of parents and teachers.