Ramaphosa closes public schools for a month during Covid-19 peak, matrics for one week
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced public schools will close for a month from Monday, July 27, reopening in late August.
Ramaphosa said the decision to close schools was not taken lightly by the government.
He said Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga had consulted widely with over 60 stakeholders in the sector - among them teacher unions, principal associations, parent organisations, school governing bodies, independent schools and other civil society formations.
Ramaphosa said Grade 12 pupils and their teachers would close for one week, returning to school on August 3, while Grade 7 pupils would return to school in two weeks, returning on August 10.
He said Motshekga would provide more details on the mechanics.
Ramaphosa also announced that the current academic calendar would be extended beyond 2020 as teacher unions had called for.
The Department of Higher Education had announced that the 2020 academic calendar for universities and TVET colleges would be extended into 2021 to mitigate for time lost during the lockdown.
Ramaphosa said the decision to close schools from July 27, was not taken lightly.
“What everyone agrees on is that the health, academic and socio-economic welfare of the learners must be our foremost concern. The World Health Organisation argues for a balanced consideration for the child and the disease,” he said.
“The best and safest ways to reopen schools are on the basis of low community transmissions,” he said.
He said the government's national school nutrition program would continue to operate during the period of schools being closed, with parents or pupils allowed to collect food from schools.
The president also apologised to pupils and parents for shutting schools again, and said the government acknowledged that the move would cause inconvenience for many families.
“It is important that schools do not become sites of transmission,” said Ramaphosa.