Picture: Wokandapix.Pixabay
Picture: Wokandapix.Pixabay

Covid-19: Plans for schools reopening on hold

By SAMKELO MTSHALI Time of article published Mar 25, 2020

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Johannesburg - The jury is still out on when exactly South African public schools will open again. Previously, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga had announced that schools would resume after the Easter period on April 14.

But, with the advent of the national lockdown starting on Thursday and ending on April 16, it is unclear what the new date will be.

“The minister will unveil everything when she briefs us tomorrow, after meeting MECs to finalise the plans. She’s currently in a meeting at the Union Buildings as part of the National Command Council,” department spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga said.

Meanwhile, Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande on Tuesday announced the establishment of a task team on post-school education and training to be led by his deputy, Buti Manamela, to address issues around the corona- virus’s impact on higher education.

Although it was unclear when institutions of higher learning would reopen in light of the countrywide lockdown, Nzimande said all universities would assess the Covid-19 situation at the end of the month and make decisions.

Among some of Nzimande’s key updates was that National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowances for both TVET colleges and universities were being paid to students, and they were not being suspended, despite lectures being suspended and students having gone on recess.

He said that the newly established task team would be representative of all stakeholders in the post-school education sector, including students, vice-chancellors, TVET college principals and trade unions.

Nzimande said: “TVET colleges went on early recess on March18 and we were expecting to open on April15, but we will have - through this task team - to readjust that date in the light of the president’s announcement.”

Nzimande said his ministry had made arrangements with TVET colleges on rescheduling their exams.

“Regarding students who returned from China, there were 76 who were at the ranch and who were evacuated from Wuhan city, and, as has been announced by the Minister of Health, they have all been tested and found to be negative and are doing their final tests this weekend,” Nzimande said.

He said that last week, 80 other ­students who had been on TVET college programmes, had arrived from China and had been placed in quarantine in Ekurhuleni.

Political Bureau

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