SA schools to reopen on June 1, Grade 7 and 12 pupils to go back to class
Johannesburg - Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says schools will reopen on June 1 as planned following approval by the Cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council.
Motshekga announced on Tuesday night, following extensive meetings with provincial MECs, unions and school governing bodies.
She said she was well aware of the pressure placed by the coronavirus pandemic and that this has not been easy on parents, teachers and schools.
She said they have had to strike a balancing act which involved dealing with the safety issue and also saving the academic year.
The first batch of pupils who would return to school on June 1 would be Grade 12 and Grade 7 learners. This particular group was at the end of the stage of the schooling year. She said the return of other grades would be discussed later.
"Grade 7s will have the whole schools to themselves and the Grade 12s will have the whole school to themselves. The issuing of phasing has been considered. Learners will be screened every day," she said.
She said on June 1, all schools including those in the metros and private schools would be open.
READ UNICEF'S FRAMEWORK FOR REOPENING SCHOOLS:
Earlier this month, Motshekga said the draft proposal had envisioned that teachers would be going back to work from May 18, but because of delays with the delivery of protective equipment and other sanitation resources, teachers would now have to start on May 25.
She said an updated and adjusted calendar of the school year would be published soon. The 2020 schooling year would greatly affect the 2021 academic calendar.
The issue of the provision on sanitation and feeding schemes would be handled, Motshekga said. With the feeding schemes, she said handlers would be trained and that the service would resume from June 1.
On the provision of water and sanitation, Motshekga said her department was working closely with the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure the delivery of water tanks.
"We have had to focus on water sanitation. The question of water and sanitation is part of the plans," she said admitting that her department has had a poor record when it came to issues of sanitation at poor schools.
Motshekga said that she was receiving regular updates from provinces on the state of readiness. She said by next week, as the countdown begins, they would have a breakdown of how many water tanks, masks and hygiene products were delivered.
She defended the decision to reopen schools and cited reports from international humanitarian bodies that said a prolonged delay of schooling impacted children immensely, such as causing stress from prolonged separation from peers.
"Schools are good for children," Motshekga said.
* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL's special #Coronavirus page.
** If you think you have been exposed to the Covid-19 virus, please call the 24-hour hotline on 0800 029 999 or visit sacoronavirus.co.za