Government moves ahead with plans to reopen schools in South Africa

 ·22 Jul 2021

The Department of Basic Education is proceeding with plans to reopen schools, says acting minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni.

Ntshavheni said that Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga will brief the nation on the re-opening of the education sector on Sunday (25 July).

South Africa moved to an adjusted level 4 lockdown at the end of June in response to the third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Although initially announced to be for two weeks, the lockdown was extended on 11 July for an additional 14 days, with a review now expected on Sunday.

The move to level 4 lockdown led to the closure of all schools, with school holidays brought forward and lost teaching time expected to be made up during the typical winter holiday period.

The Department of Basic Education previously gazetted Monday (26 July) as the official reopening date for schools, but this could still change if president Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet extend the level 4 lockdown.

The situation is being reviewed weekly, the Department of Basic Education said.

While all government school students are expected to return in some capacity from 26 July, a timetable change will also see primary school learners (Grades R – 7) return to school from 2 August for the first time in more than a year.

Since South Africa first introduced Covid-19 lockdown restrictions at the end of March 2020, most students are learning in a ‘shift system’ – with a large amount of coursework still expected to be done at home to encourage social distancing.

In a briefing on Wednesday evening, Ntshavheni said that 143 schools had been vandalised and looted during the recent unrest. 139 of these schools are in KwaZulu-Natal and four are in Gauteng.

“Equipment and food meant for the school nutrition programme was stolen, which means that these schools are unable to provide the school nutrition programme to the vulnerable learners,” she said.

Read: Ramaphosa met with more than 90 CEOs and business leaders this week – this is what he told them

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