JSE-listed independent education provider, Curro, says that since re-opening on 1 June 2020, through a phased approach, the majority of learners have returned to school.
Chief executive officer, Andries Greyling said in a voluntary business update that “attendance is higher than expected, with on average more than 75% of learners present in the classroom”.
“The extensive safety protocols developed, implemented and adhered to are holding up well and, although some positive Covid-19 cases have been identified, the schools have remained open as no contamination has occurred.”
Curro said that during the extended lockdown period, teaching continued through online or remote learning channels. Extra mural activities, mainly cultural and selected sport, were realigned to continue via online channels.
Overall, Curro’s primary and high schools have experienced a benign decline of 468 learners – 0.1% of the Grade 1 to Grade 12 total learner population – since March 2020, the group said.
Pre-schools – learners from three months old to Grade R – where remote operations are more complex, have seen a decline of 2,087 learners (18% of pre-school learners).
New enrolments for June 2020 alone amounted to 513 learners for all grades, Curro said.
“Further growth in new enrolments is expected, as other industry players are subject to greater operational and funding challenges,” it said.
Plans to welcome back more grades to school
The Basic Education Department said in a statement earlier this week that it continues with its phased reopening of schools amid Covid-19.
Pupils in Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are set to return to school on 6 July 2020.
Grade 7 and 12 pupils returned to the classroom at the beginning of June, as government implemented the phased reopening of the country and the economy.
In an effort to maintain social distancing at schools, Basic Education director-general Mathanzima Mweli, presented the department’s plan to amend the timetable to ensure that only 50% of the total learner enrolment is present at a given moment.
Under the plan, the department suggests that learners either attend school on a bi-weekly basis, rotate to be present ever second day or all learners attend on a particular day.
Curro future plans
Looking ahead, Curro pointed to key business developments including:
- Selected pre-school facilities (with a focus on specific standalone pre-school units) will be converted to primary or assisted learning schools;
- A focus on increased network security and improved access to low cost data through inter alia reverse billing and bespoke cellular data packages;
- The implementation of a hybrid model to combine classroom and online teaching and learning;
- The launch of an online school model for Grade 4 to 9 learners (to be phased in until Grade 12);
- The re-evaluation of certain capital investments; completion of 2019 projects and 2020 investment will amount to approximately R800 million;
- Limited green field developments will be undertaken over the next year / period; and
- A number of favourable acquisition opportunities are under review.
Curro said that its anticipated rights offer, to the extent of R1.5 billion, will be concluded by the end of August 2020.
“The proceeds will be used for potential acquisition opportunities and to proactively decrease debt in light of the current uncertain economic environment,” it said.