Learners wearing protective face masks at FF Ribiero Primary School in Mamelodi. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)
Learners wearing protective face masks at FF Ribiero Primary School in Mamelodi. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Gauteng schools may apply for 100% attendance

By Rapula Moatshe Time of article published May 4, 2021

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Pretoria - Gauteng schools with capacity to stick to Covid-19 safety protocols in spite of all learners being in attendance can apply to the Department of Education to forgo the approach to attend on a rotational basis.

Department spokesperson Steve Mabona said the decision was in line with a directive by the Department of Basic Education allowing all schools that could still manage to conform to Covid-19 protocols with all learners in attendance to ask for such permission.

Mabona was responding to questions from the Pretoria News emanating from a decision by Uitsig High School in Centurion to have all learners back at school during the reopening of term two on Monday.

In a letter to parents and guardians of learners, the school said the department had given the school the go-ahead to welcome all learners back to school. In the letter, the school principal, Dr Dr GF Mare, said a request was lodged with the department to bring back all learners on daily schedules from the beginning of the second term.

The request was made following requests from the school governing body on behalf of concerned parents. Concerns were raised that “due to parents returning back to work, learners are at home and at risk”. To address those concerns, a case was made that the school would provide a safe and controlled environment. It was also said that daily contact time with teachers would benefit learners to be fully updated on their work.

Mare wrote: “Following a comprehensive audit on the school, the Gauteng Department of Education on April 20 granted our request to allow all learners to return to school from the second term.”

Mabona said schools would have to demonstrate that they would manage the huge number of learners in attendance without compromising necessary protocols. “Schools must always make sure everyone wears masks, uses sanitisers and that necessary social distance in classrooms and public spaces is adhered to. Schools with enough capacity have demonstrated that they can manage,” he said.

The Uitsig school had satisfied safety protocol requirements, hence approval was granted, Mabona said.

In motivating why Uitsig could accommodate more learners, Mare said the school had upgraded its morning scanning process.

“Every person entering the school premises is scanned and sanitised. Learners will be sanitised before each class commences. Facilities and classrooms will be disinfected twice daily. Our classroom and timetable allow us to adhere to the social distance requirements,” Mare wrote in a letter to parents.

The latest development for schools’ exemption to rotational attendance was made in a week when the council of ministers was expected to convene a meeting to talk about the possibility of returning all pupils at primary school level to school.

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga has said schools would continue with the rotational approach, but indicated the the department “is currently investigating the possibility of returning all learners at primary school level due to the learning losses suffered as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal is now being considered at the national joint operational and intelligence structure”.

Pretoria News

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