Schools will close on Wednesday, vaccinating teachers continues, says Motshekga
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Cape Town – Teaching will stop nationwide on Wednesday and schools are scheduled to reopen on July 19, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says.
“Teaching will stop on Wednesday. Then we will use Thursday and Friday for teachers and managers to close the schools properly. So managers and educators will come to school until Friday. Use Thursday and Friday to mop up and have an orderly closure of schools.”
Motshekga was briefing South Africa on the education sector’s response to the adjusted Level 4 as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night. The tightened restrictions are due to a continued rise in Covid-19 infections dominated by the fast-spreading Delta variant.
She said that teachers being at schools on Thursday and Friday would give parents time to make arrangements if their children were in a different city or province.
Motshekga said learners who were beneficiaries of the national school nutrition programme would receive meals until Friday. She urged schools to make the necessary arrangements.
On Sunday, Ramaphosa said the additional restrictions, including the ban on alcohol sales, would be in place for the next 14 days. All gatherings, indoors and outdoors, were prohibited, he said. Public places like beaches and parks remained open but no gatherings were permitted.
Ramaphosa said the measures were designed to allow as much economic activity as possible while containing the spread of the virus.
The Delta variant was more contagious, so the measures the country had in place might no longer be sufficient to reduce the spread, he said.
Motshekga said winter school support programmes for grades 11 and 12 should continue with strict Covid-19 protocols in place.
However, some camps would be cancelled because they were residential camps and could be super spreader events, she said.
“Supplementary exams continue and the marking of supplementary exams will continue,” she said.
“The vaccination programme must continue, so the announcement that schools close on Friday, doesn’t mean that our vaccination programme stops on Friday. Teachers should come as scheduled.”
Motshekga said her department was consulting all stakeholders in the sector to ensure that everyone knew the way forward.
She said the planned vaccination programme would continue as scheduled to ensure that all teachers were vaccinated, adding that vaccinating teachers was a priority.
“Our aim is to make schools safe places but, more importantly, to protect our teachers. They are very important to us – they carry the system on their shoulders,” she said.
“If we can protect them, it means we would have protected the sector and I am very happy that they are coming in their numbers (to get vaccinated).”
Motshekga said there was no crisis and encouraged all teachers to get vaccinated, adding that she had received the jab.
More than 200 000 teachers have been vaccinated in three days, 60 000 of them in KwaZulu-Natal. Additional doses would be made available by the Health Department.
Motshekga said that once schools reopened, they would look at the Level 4 implications to determine a way forward.
“We have agreed to monitor the situation weekly. We will take the decision close to time,” she said.
“We will see closer to the time if out plan is going to encounter problems.”
She urged Grade 12 learners to use the break to study and prepare for the end of year exams, using all available resources.
Learners should protect themselves and remain safe by avoiding super spreader events, she said.