Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says physical distancing will be the order of the day when schools in Gauteng reopen next month.     African News Agency (ANA)
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says physical distancing will be the order of the day when schools in Gauteng reopen next month. African News Agency (ANA)

Lesufi assures classes will be smaller when pupils return to school

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published May 22, 2020

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Pretoria - Gone are the days of pupils sharing a desk or a ruler in a classroom, said Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Thursday.

Lesufi was part of a team of provincial command council members who gave an update on Covid-19, and he focused on the readiness of schools reopening on June 1, emphasising the importance of physical distancing on school premises.

He reiterated that a classroom that used to accommodate 40 pupils, would now be allowed to take only 20.

Playing fields would be no-go zones and would be cordoned off with red tape.

Safety would be at the centre of every decision for allowing the resumption of learning activities.

Before the schools’ reopening, personal protective equipment must have been received at schools by principals.

The arrival of teachers and pupils would have to be preceded by the transportation of protective gear to schools.

“It is protective equipment first, then the resumption of activities. Where there is no equipment we are not going to risk pupils and teachers coming to our schools,” Lesufi said.

Before the reopening, the department would organise an open day for parents to inspect if everything was safe for teaching to resume.

The district centres would monitor the readiness of every school and provide relevant reports to the department.

All teachers would be expected to report back to work despite there being only 300 000 pupils from Grade 7 and Grade 12 in the reopened schools.

Teachers who did not teach grades 7 and 12 would be expected to assist their colleagues.

Pupils and teachers would be screened three times a day – in the morning, during lunch breaks and after school.

Every pupil would receive three face masks every week – one surgical and two cloth masks.

The desks and classrooms would have two-hourly intervals to check that everything was still in order.

For the 331 schools that were vandalised, there would be mobile classrooms for pupils.

No visitor would be allowed in the schools without permission from the district offices, which would also be required to ask the head office for approval.

Lesufi said: “We don’t want people who have not been screened to enter our school premises.”

All schools that did not have fences would be fenced with immediate effect, he said.

“All schools must ensure that there is one exit gate and one entrance gate. All the other gates that were used before will now be locked.”

Each school would be linked to a clinic to enable it to obtain information regarding health issues beyond its comprehension.

“Second, we are procuring services of general practitioners. These will allow them to start at our schools first before they go to their surgeries,” Lesufi said.

Teachers would be expected to read out to pupils a script explaining the dangers of Covid-19 and the importance of physical distancing before they started teaching.

Teachers above 55 years and with underlying illnesses would be allowed to work from home, or replaced with new ones.

“This is very important to us because we don’t want educators who might have sicknesses that may infect our pupils on the school premises,” he said.

Lesufi said the department would start with the recruitment of 50 teachers, but might need 300 more in future.

At least 7 000 young people, called the youth brigades, would be hired to enforce Covid-19 rules.

Four youth brigades would be deployed to each school across the province.

One brigade would be deployed into a scholar transport bus to ensure compliance with Covid-19 regulations, which required only 70% commuters and strict sanitisation.

At least 67 schools with water challenges in the province would be provided with water tanks.

Those responsible for the school nutrition programme were currently undergoing compulsory training on how to handle food and wash the utensils under the present circumstances.

Pretoria News

* 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 

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