Government is looking at staggered start dates for South African schools, based on their lockdown level and district, the Sunday Times reports.
While a number of the country’s schools are expected to begin reopening in June, the department wants schools in ‘hotspots’ such as Buffalo City, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Mangaung and Nelson Mandela Bay to be regarded as being on lockdown level 5 and remain closed in June.
In parts of the country where fewer cases have been reported, the schools would be considered as being on level 3. Grade 7 and Grade 12 students at these schools would resume lessons from 1 June, while the rest of the grades would return on a staggered basis.
The Sunday Times reports that government is also considering a proposal that will allow different grades to attend school on different days of the week as part of social distancing measures.
The Department of Basic Education is expected to provide a full outline of when the country’s schools will open on Monday (18 May).
The Department of Higher Education has indicated that the country’s university students will return based on the country’s lockdown levels.
In a parliamentary briefing on Thursday, the department said that the academic year was highly dependent on the trajectory of the coronavirus pandemic, with plans to end the year anywhere between January and April 2021.
To accommodate this, from 1 June all institutions to be offering forms of remote multi-modal flexible teaching and learning, supported by approved resourced plans.
It added that it plans to allow a number of students back in a phased approach based on the level of the lockdown:
- Level 4 – Strictly controlled phased-in return of final-year undergraduate students in programmes requiring clinical training, beginning with MBChB (medical) students from 11 May 2020;
- Level 3 and Level 2 – Further phasing in of groups of students (undergraduate and postgraduate) based on national criteria to ensure controlled return, social distancing and other protocols to support student and staff health and safety. The final decision for return of students in these categories will only take place once the National Command Council have taken into account all necessary health and other considerations;
- Level 1 – Full return of all groups of students with social distancing and health protocols still in place. This includes 27 weeks of contact teaching planned to ensure effective completion of the academic year and a fair chance of success for all students.
The department noted that a similar approach will be followed for TVET colleges and other higher education institutions, with no student allowed to return under level 4 restrictions (before the start of June).