Grade 7 and 12’s were supposed to have been back at school today under the new Level 3 lockdown rules but due to alot of Western Cape schools not being ready to accommodate learners safely, the schools will reopen next week Monday. Video: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

PICS: 98% of Cape schools reopen despite confusion over restart date

By Sisonke Mlamla Time of article published Jun 2, 2020

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Cape Town - The confusion over the reopening of schools saw some schools in the Western Cape restarting the school year on Monday despite Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement they would only reopen next Monday

The SA The Human Rights Commission threatened court action over the province’s decision while protests took place in various areas as parents and communities demanded the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) closed schools in a bid to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The Bishop Lavis Action Community (Blac) demonstrated with placards and lined up in front of local schools on Monday morning, saying those schools are not ready to reopen.

“Not now, next week or any time soon,” said Blac president Rodney Zeerberg said. He said said children, teachers and support staff were being set up for a disaster with tragic consequences for the entire communities.

The question of personal protective equipment to all, infrastructural deficiencies, safety and security concerns, lack of psychosocial facilities as well as access to technology were uppermost issues contained in their memorandum.

Grade 7 students at Arcadia Primary school in Bonteheuwel return back to school today after a 2 month long break as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Teachers and students take extra precautions at the school. Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Grade 7 students at Arcadia Primary school in Bonteheuwel return back to school today after a 2 month long break as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Teachers and students take extra precautions at the school. Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Grade 7 students at Nerina Primary school in Bonteheuwel return back to school today after a 2 month long break as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Teachers and students take extra precautions at the school. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Grade 7 students at Nerina Primary school in Bonteheuwel return back to school today after a 2 month long break as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Teachers and students take extra precautions at the school. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)
Teacher addresses Grade 7 students at Nerina Primary school in Bonteheuwe as they return back to school today after a 2 month long break as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Teachers and students take extra precautions at the school. Picture:Brendan Magaar/African News Agency (ANA)

WCED spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said initial reports indicated that over 98% of their schools reopened on Monday.

“Less than 2% did not open as a result of cleaning due to a positive Covid-19 case, protest action which prevented pupils from entering or informed parents that they were not opening.” Hammond said the department would engage with those schools.

Some schools, due to the confusion with the statement by the Basic Education Department did not open, but have been informed to do so today.

“We have received countless reports of orientation taking place, following screening measures on arrival at schools. The WCED would like to thank all our principals and teachers that have prepared for the return of pupils,” Hammond said.

She said it was understood that the department was operating within uncertain and confusing times, however, Hammond said it had remained firm on its position that Western Cape schools open as planned and communicated, and in accordance with the gazette promulgated last week by Motshekga.

“Should a parent not wish to send their child to school - that is their decision. However, no one can prevent or deny other Grade 7 and 12 learners from going back to school. It is their right to do so,” she said.

Motshekga briefed the public about the plans to reopen schools on June 8, and why there had been yet another last-minute delay in those plans.

She apologised to the South African public after days of confusion about the reopening of schools, where previously she announced that Grade 7 and 12 pupils would start schooling on Monday.

She explained that the decision to postpone the reopening of schools was taken after consultation with stakeholders and unions indicated that schools across the country were on various levels of readiness.

SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) general secretary, Mugwena Maluleke said that the date of the June 8 was never mentioned in their meeting because the focus was readying the system and ensuring that all the provinces comply with the twelve non-negotiables.

Maluleke said the astounding confusion caused by the statement must be condemned because Basic Education was obsessed with dates and ignoring the evidence of provincial readiness.

“The lack of appreciation for evidence can only be characterized as irresponsible and negligent.”

National Teachers’ Organisation of SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said schools across the country must prioritise the training of the teachers on the amended curriculum and allow the teachers and the professional autonomy to help the pupils and when they finally return to schools.

“Where the schools have not complied with the health and safety regulations, please be advise not to report for duty until there is compliance. This is also published in the regulations by the Minister,” Manuel said.

A Grade 7 pupil at Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School  having her hands sprayed with sanitiser as she enters the school premises. Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Nomsa Mapongwana Primary School. Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Nomsa Mpongwana grade 7 pupils. Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Photographer: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Nomsa Mapongwana grade 7 pupils. Photographer Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
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