All schools are expected to reopen on July 26 under the existing rotational timetable.
All schools are expected to reopen on July 26 under the existing rotational timetable.

Delay in daily return of learners ‘can’t be helped - unions

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Jul 21, 2021

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Cape Town - Teacher unions have accepted the delays in the daily attendance of high school learners and are assessing the readiness of primary schools to return to the traditional attendance timetable.

All schools are expected to reopen on July 26 under the existing rotational timetable.

However, learners attending special needs schools and primary schools will return to daily attendance from August 2, giving teachers time to prepare for the large group.

This is according to the amended directions on reopening of schools that were recently gazetted by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga.

Initially schools were expected to return from the holidays on Tuesday but this was postponed to next week during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of alert level four lockdown.

In the gazette, Motshekga instructed principals, school management teams and non-teaching staff to report for duty on Thursday, to prepare for the return of learners to school next week.

Motshekga said Independent schools were to also remain closed for contact learning classes until July 26.

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said the gazette did not indicate the date for the return of all high school learners to daily attendance because the department was advised by medical experts to delay this.

Since lockdown last year, most high school pupils have been following a rotational timetable.

“There is no decision as yet on high school learners returning. We want to do it in phases as advised by medical experts,” he said.

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation SA (Naptosa) executive director Basil Manuel said whether August 2 deadline was achievable depended on school readiness.

“We also support the idea of primary schools returning in August but have insisted that it must be under the right and safe conditions. As unions we still have a lot of questions and a meeting is expected on Wednesday to assess the readiness of PPEs, water supply and the provision of additional classes for overcrowded schools. KwaZulu-Natal schools being affected will also come into play as it affects their readiness.”

Manuel said although teachers were vaccinated they were still worried about the return of a large group as many children had tested positive for the new variant of Covid-19.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) general secretary Mugwena Maluleke said they would closely monitor the readiness of schools.

“Some schools might say they are ready while others won’t be. So talks are ongoing because we don’t want other learners to be left behind and we have seen Grade 5 and 4 learners contracting the virus.”

South African Teacher’s Union executive director Chris Klopper said while everyday attendance was ideal, they were worried that most schools could not implement social distancing because classrooms were overcrowded.

Cape Times

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