Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban - Schools had to make last minute transport arrangements for their pupils on Thursday morning after a sudden announcement by the Department of Education to send pupils home early due to the inclement weather. 

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi confirmed that a circular was sent out to all schools in the province on Thursday morning from Head of Department Dr Eugene Nzama. “We have directed that all pupils who are not writing examinations today must be released immediately to go home due to predicted bad weather conditions. Those who are writing must continue with their planned sessions and released immediately after finishing. Where possible, parents must be informed to collect their children to ensure safe return home,” Mahlambi explained. 

It comes as heavy rains are predicted over much of the province on Thursday. Several people have been killed in recent days and countless homes damaged after torrential rains and tornado ripped through the province.

Teachers, were however, told to remain at school. Many complained about the last minute notice saying this message could have been sent earlier on this week so that prior arrangements could be made.

Parents who drop off and fetch their children from the school had to get time off work in the interim.  Glenashley Preparatory School confirmed the message had been sent from the department this morning. 

The owner of school transport company in Bonela, who did not want to be named, said she was unaware of the message because they take a break during the day. She said all the schools have her number and they normally contact transporters directly to fetch the children in cases of emergencies. She said it would be a risk to drive in bad weather with children on board. 

Most schools had bulk SMS systems that notified parents of school closures. Some teachers have parents on their WhatsApp and notify them immediately. In some schools, the junior primary school pupils have completed their exams and classes did not have full attendance. The senior primary and high schools pupils are still writing examinations and most finish by midday. 

A primary school teacher based in Sydenham said they would not leave children stranded and would wait until parents or school transport services fetch them.

The Manor Gardens Primary School told parents through bulk messaging that school would not close early.

It was unclear at the time of publishing how many schools in KZN had decided to send their children home.

Daily News