68% Parents surveyed extremely concerned about the prospect of children returning to school
What’s in the headlines?
Following an initial delay due to health concerns and the unpreparedness of some provinces, the vast majority of South African schools reopened on Monday, 8 June, as part of a gradual loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.
However, despite confirmation from Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga that 95% of South Africa’s primary and secondary schools were fully equipped and able to host classes, some parents are still worried that not enough has been done to protect the health of pupils.
What does South Africa have to say?
Leading fintech company, CompariSure, surveyed South African parents from all walks of life on how comfortable they are with sending their kids back to school. On a scale of one to five, with one being very comfortable and five being extremely worried, CompariSure’s data revealed that only 10.8% of parents are at ease, while a staggering 68% indicated extreme concern about the prospect of their children returning to the classroom.
Source: CompariSure Chatbot data, as of 12 June 2020
“Overall, the majority of respondents were not comfortable at all about sending their children back to school,” says Matt Kloos, CFO of CompariSure, who notes this concern may be less about the children catching COVID-19, and more about them being potential carriers of the disease.
“This concern is understandable, considering the higher COVID-19 mortality rates seen in the older-age brackets and the close-knit nature of many South African households – with grandparents often residing in the same house as school-going kids.
“Afterall, parents are overtly aware of how easily regular flu and colds can spread across a bustling classroom, often resulting in the disease being brought back into the home and infecting the rest of the family,” says Kloos.
Additional insights: “Despite the extreme concern about kids going back to school, it was interesting to see that only 6% of respondents indicated that ‘Child Care’ was their biggest challenge during lockdown. The main challenges mentioned were ‘Financial Strain’ (53%) and ‘Food & Essentials’ (24%).”
Looking on the brightside…
Homeschooling has been no easy feat for many families, demanding parents to juggle jobs, housework and childcare, with little time available for home schooling and educational activities. “The importance of education in terms of uplifting society is unquestionable, so in this sense it is at least good news for the children that they will be able to resume their studies and not fall behind,” says Kloos.
“So long as strict social-distancing and hygiene measures are followed across all schools, this may be an opportunity to bring a sense of normality back into childrens’ lives,” he concludes.