'Gauteng, Western Cape the only provinces ready to resume schooling'
Johannesburg - The Department of Basic Education's assessment team has found that not all provinces were ready to reopen schools on June 1, with Rand Water yet to provide sanitation to schools in need.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and a team of advisors addressed the media on Monday on what was supposed to be the first day of reopening of schools following the national lockdown. It was envisaged that grades 7 and 12 would be returning to school and other grades would be phased in later.
She said that following discussions and issues of supply being flagged in reports from education MECs from various provinces along with the department's assessments, it was decided schools will reopen on June 8.
Schools ready in terms of supply of PPE and training were urged to use this week for induction. Other schools that were not ready would have to do a "mop-up" operation this week to ensure PPE was delivered and training of teachers had taken place.
Only Gauteng and the Western Cape were ready to open, provinces with medium levels of readiness included Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State and North West. Provinces with a high/risk level of reopening were KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
The issues with schools and provinces not ready had to do with the delivery of PPE, but mostly a large number had no sanitation, crucial for measuring a school's readiness.
Rand Water has been commissioned by the department to supply water to over 3 000 schools that lacked sanitation.
The company has managed to supply water tanks to some schools and over 2 600 still needed to be supplied. In some areas, they would need to install tanks and pipes.
Sanitation is one of the crucial measures that have to be met before schools can be reopened. The issue of water supply had been flagged by unions who bemoaned the department's lack of assurance on readiness.
Motshekga agreed with unions that no school should be allowed to reopen unless there was a supply of water and PPE.
She is expected to meet with stakeholders again on Thursday to assess the state of readiness.
Motshekga also explained the guidelines regarding the operation of schools during Covid-19, that were published last week.
The guidelines include the requirement for permits being issued to teachers and learners who had to travel between provinces. Teachers who have underlying illnesses would have to apply for leave to stay at home. This will be guided by a formal letter from a doctor stating the person's inability to perform their job.
The minister also explained that parents who did not want their child to return to school were allowed to apply for homeschooling. Parents would also be required to apply to the head of the education department seeking their child be exempted from school.
She explained that parents would need to apply for homeschooling as schooling was compulsory for learners between the ages of 6 and 7.IOL
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