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Education: Principal guilty for shutting school during pandemic

Despite having the backing of parents, teachers and pupils, Wesley Neumann, the Heathfield High School principal who came to the defence of his pupils and staff during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been found guilty by the Western Cape Education Department on six charges at the end of his disciplinary hearing. A Cape Argus report says Neumann faced the charges following his refusal to re-open the school amid the Covid-19 infection peak last year. His disciplinary hearing lasted 25 days.


Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the sanction has not yet been determined. Executive Action Group spokesperson Allan Liebenberg said Neumann, as was his routine practice, engaged with his extremely apprehensive parents in a number of meetings on this issue. Liebenberg said the majority view of the parents was that because of a range of vulnerabilities at the school and until there was a downward trend in the national infection rate, they would keep their children at home until it was safe for them to return to school. ‘This position was supported by more than 100 principals in a letter written to our President, who subsequently delayed the re-opening of our schools nationally. This was ignored by the department, which insisted on re-opening schools on the original date,’ said Liebenberg. He said it was their contention that when Neumann was the only principal targeted with a disciplinary process, he was not afforded basic fairness with respect to labour law.

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