Government discussing lockdown changes for schools in South Africa

The second term for government schools started on Monday (3 May), with discussions this week expected to look at the further easing of lockdown restrictions in the education sector.

At present, most schools are operating on a rotational shift system, where learners only physically attend school on certain days. This in line with established lockdown rules for social distancing and gatherings.

While learners are expected to continue their studies on the ‘off’ days they are at home, the system has caused disruptions, with concerns that students will not be able to complete the curriculum in an already shortened year.

Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga and other education officials will hold a two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday (6 and 7 May) to deliberate on this system and other key issues affecting the basic education sector.

“The department is currently investigating the possibility of returning all learners at primary school level due to the learning losses suffered as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic,” it said in a statement.

It added that the proposal is now being considered at the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints), after the department delivered a closed presentation last week.

An announcement on the outcome of the discussions is expected to be made in the coming weeks.

Other changes being considered

The resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in India has also prompted the South African government to consider introducing additional measures in order to stave off a third wave.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize told an online conference last week that a close eye was being kept on India, which has now the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the world.

“The challenges we have seen in India are very serious,” Mkhize said. “We have received an advisory from the ministerial advisory council that we have to consider some restrictions and we are now going through that,” he said, without giving details.

President Cyril Ramaphosa eased coronavirus restrictions in March as the rate of new infections dropped, scrapping most limits on alcohol sales, shortening a night-time curfew and permitting larger public gatherings.

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Government discussing lockdown changes for schools in South Africa