DURBAN - THE Department of Basic Education has announced that schools will return from the winter holiday break early, on July 19, instead of July 26, as was originally scheduled in the school calendar.
This was announced by Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga during a briefing yesterday to provide an update on the sector’s response to the impact of Covid-19 on schools.
The changes come after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the country’s move to adjusted level 4 lockdown which include, among other regulations, that teaching and learning would be halted from tomorrow.
In response, Motshekga said the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) met yesterday morning and agreed to move the reopening date forward. Schools were initially due to be closed on July 9.
Motshekga said that the School Management Teams, teachers, pupils in hostel facilities, and pupils with special education needs waiting for parents to pick them up, should report at schools until Friday.
“The usual Winter Vacation Learner Support Programme for Grades 11 and 12, should continue under strict conditions.
“Some of these camps are residential camps. We are requesting provinces to cancel all residential camps because they can be a super-spreader,” said Motshekga.
Supplementary exams and marking were expected to continue due to the small number of pupils writing.
The department has also said the directions that primary school pupils must return to full daily attendance from the start of the third term remains in place.
But Motshekga said working closely with the Health Ministry, they would remain vigilant about developments.
Furthermore, the vaccination programme for the sector would also proceed as planned and schools designated as vaccination sites should remain open to continue with the initiative.
Motshekga said that the department was still targeting July 7 as the last day of vaccination. The department said in the first three days more than 200 000 educators and staff were vaccinated. The sector has a target of 582 564 personnel.
KwaZulu-Natal received praise from Motshekga, who said she was delighted that the province had administered more than 60 000 doses.
However, the programme had some hiccups, with the KZN running out of vaccines in three districts, uMkhanyakude, uMlazi and Pinetown.
Nomarashiya Caluza, SA Democratic Teachers Union provincial secretary, said they were aware of the vaccine shortages.
“We are just praying that the Department of Health manages to secure the remaining vaccines so that (we) can conclude its vaccination project,” she said.
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of SA KZN chief executive Thirona Moodley, said it was disappointing that the province had to break the momentum in these districts. Moodley said they were also made aware of the shortage of vaccines in other districts. Teachers were turned away from Harding Town Hall, under the Harry Gwala District.
“A large number of teachers arrived there only to be told that there were only 250 doses. Teachers arrived as early as 4am, and some had to wait for more than four hours for the vaccine. Hopefully, it will be sorted,” said Moodley.
KZN Department of Education spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi said the programme was expected to resume tomorrow.
He said the department was aware of the Harding vaccine shortage, saying it was due to more teachers arriving at the site than were scheduled to come on the day.
“People are now panicking in the context of what has been announced as the third wave. We are appealing to our educators not to panic. There are enough doses for everyone, and we are asking them to come only on the days that they are scheduled,” he said.