Independent schools ready for the 2021 school year
DURBAN - One of the schools that welcomed pupils back to class was Curro Hillcrest. The school said all Covid-19 safety measures had been put in place for the start of the school year.
Curro Hillcrest executive head Paul Guthrie said in approaching the current scenario the country finds itself due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a staggered approach was adopted where certain grades come back each day to school and at the same time online learning will take place on days when pupils are at home.
“There is a very positive mood at the school and pupils and staff are excited to be back at the start of the year albeit not the entire school population has returned. Today was the first day, we had a number of very enthusiastic Grade 1s who started their ’formal’ schooling career,” said Guthrie.
Other independent schools are expected to open next week, this after the Independent Schools’ Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) announced last week that due to the second wave of the pandemic, the association and member schools had said members should consider delaying the commencement of the academic year.
ISASA executive director Lebogang Montjane said they were confident in the ability of their members to mitigate the risk of transmission of Covid-19.
Montjane said this would be through meticulous planning and compliance with all known Covid-related health and safety protocols.
“Our schools learnt a great deal in 2020 about how to operate in the midst of a pandemic.
“We expect they will be even more rigorous this year as they counter the threat posed by the newly-identified variant of Covid-19, currently playing a role in the second wave of infection that South Africa is now experiencing,” said Montjane.
Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education says it ready and confident all measures will be in place to ensure the resumption of public schools on January 27.
Speaking to The Mercury, KZN MEC for Education Kwazi Mshungu said the department was working around the clock for schools to open on January 25 for teachers with pupils returning two days later.
Mshungu said they had learnt from the past, and they were perfecting their systems.
“We are confident by the 23rd or 25th of January all our schools will be ready with personal protective equipment (PPE), and we are also working on the infrastructure challenges.”
Mshengu urged parents to allow their children to attend school and have confidence in the department’s ability to ensure the safety of their children.
This comes after parent bodies and teacher unions voiced concern about children returning to school amid the rise in Covid-19 cases.
“Last year many people were saying we are sending kids to the slaughter, however, not a single pupil died of Covid-19. We did not even register a single case where we were told there was a spread in a particular school,” he said.
Mshengu said there were about 10 schools that had reported break-ins.
“We believe lockdown has actually assisted. Police were around our schools and people were confined in their own spaces. We believe it contributed a lot in terms of safety of our schools,” added Mshengu.