Basic Education minister Angie Motshekga says that students in grade 7 and 12 are set to return to school on Monday (8 June), having been given the green light to do so by unions and governing bodies.
It follows a ‘mop up’ week in which schools across the country were prepared, cleaned, and inspected and provided with water and Personal Protective Equipment, to ensure their readiness.
In an address the nation on Sunday afternoon, Motshekga said the most recent reports had shown great improvement in getting schools ready across all provinces.
The minister said that number of provinces which were initially classified as high risk, have improved to medium risk. There are no provinces classified as high risk, she said.
“All these reports confirm we have really moved a long way to be ready to teach on 8 June,” said Motshekga. “We can say with confidence that about 95% of our schools have been ably provided with all the necessary Covid-19 imperatives.”
The minister said that the sector will strive to deal with the remaining 5%. “A school that is not Covid-19 compliant will not be able to open,” she said.
“The golden rule is, there will be no school that will resume, if it’s not ready,” Motshekga said.
For the remaining 5%, alternative measures have been developed by different districts and provinces, including temporarily using neighbouring schools, using underutilised spaces in boarding school,s and putting other learners in camps, “to ensure that no learner is left behind,” the minister said.
Education unions met with Motshekga on Saturday. In a statement, the unions and governing body associations said they support the move to partially reopen schools as the overall readiness sits at 94%.
Department director general Mathanzima Hubert Mweli said that according to DBE data, 97.6% of South African schools are ready to accept learners in terms of their facilities.
This translates to 23,100 of 23,675 schools whose facilities are ready to take learners from 8 June.
The Department of Basic Education sent a document to schools outlining the standard operating procedure during lockdown.
The document also contains rules for all learners, educators, support staff, officials, parents and communities:
- Avoid gatherings;
- Maintain a social distance of at least 1.5-2 metres to others, where possible;
- Every learner, staff member and visitor must wear a cloth mask at all times;
- Avoid direct contact with others e.g. shaking hands or hugging;
- Frequently wash hands with water and soap;
- Avoid touching the face (i.e. eyes, nose, mouth) with unwashed hands;
- Eradicate all forms of stigma and discrimination as a result of Covid-19.
New school calendar
Earlier this week, Motshekga published a new directive that provides further clarity on the new academic calendar for schools in South Africa.
The directive makes a number of amendments to a directive published by the department on Friday (29 May), including provision for aftercare facilities as well as ‘ongoing teaching’.