Schools to reopen on June 1, 2020

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Schools will reopen on June 1, 2020, with Grade 7 and Grade 12 learn­ers return­ing to the class­room, Basic Edu­ca­tion Min­is­ter Ang­ie Mot­shek­ga  (pic­tured above) said on Tues­day.

“Inde­pen­dent and pub­lic ordi­nary schools will open even in the met­ro­pol­i­tan areas. Every school must adhere and observe the health and safe­ty pro­to­cols that will be put in place.  We will start with grades 7 and 12 and small schools. The oth­er grades will fol­low in due course,” said the Min­is­ter.

The reopen­ing of schools fol­lows the Nation­al coro­n­avirus Com­mand Coun­cil and Cabinet’s approval of the Basic Edu­ca­tion Department’s (DBE) plan to return to the class­room in a stag­gered approach.

The return of oth­er grades is yet to be announced.

The Min­is­ter unveiled the stag­gered return of pupils as gov­ern­ment con­tin­ues to ease the lock­down imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Fol­low­ing the back­ing of Cab­i­net, the Min­is­ter announced that a revised school cal­en­dar will be gazetted soon.

The pend­ing cal­en­dar will indi­cate the open­ing and clos­ing dates of schools and the breaks in between.

In prepa­ra­tion for the reopen­ing of schools, deliv­ery of COVID-19 essen­tials such as sani­tis­ers, masks, water and san­i­ta­tion is cur­rent­ly under­way in schools across the coun­try.

“The reports we got are show­ing that prepa­ra­tions have been tak­ing place and good progress has been made. All indi­ca­tions are that the pre­con­di­tions for the reopen­ing of schools will be met obvi­ous­ly with the pre­mi­um being on sav­ing lives,” said the Min­is­ter in the vir­tu­al brief­ing.

Mean­while, the Depart­ment of Basic Edu­ca­tion (DBE) has entered into an Imple­men­ta­tion Pro­to­col agree­ment with the Depart­ment of Human Set­tle­ments, Water and San­i­ta­tion and Rand Water to ensure the deliv­ery of water to schools.

Address­ing comor­bidi­ties

Work­ing with health pro­fes­sion­als and the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Ser­vice and Admin­is­tra­tion, Mot­shek­ga said teach­ers and staff who have comor­bidi­ties and are vul­ner­a­ble to COVID-19, are being pro­filed.

This is so as to deter­mine a guide on how to man­age them.

Mot­shek­ga called on par­ents to work close­ly with schools to ensure that learn­ers with pre-exist­ing ill­ness­es are also assist­ed.

“Schools will work with par­ents to obtain the infor­ma­tion which once again needs to be treat­ed with the utmost care.  This mat­ter is of para­mount impor­tance and we appeal for coop­er­a­tion in this regard,” she said.

Spe­cial schools

Mind­ful of the needs of learn­ers with dis­abil­i­ties, the DBE is work­ing with provinces to ensure that spe­cial schools are ade­quate­ly pro­vid­ed for in all the plans put togeth­er.

Dur­ing con­sul­ta­tion with social part­ners, Mot­shek­ga said it became clear that a dif­fer­ent approach was need­ed when it comes to spe­cial schools.

“We are work­ing with organ­i­sa­tions who are advis­ing us on the best way for­ward regard­ing the phased-approach of the spe­cial schools.  Our plan­ning and pro­cure­ment has con­sid­ered the needs of learn­ers with dis­abil­i­ties and those in spe­cial schools. Provinces have put in place plans that will ensure that no child is com­pro­mised,” said the Min­is­ter.

Ear­ly Child­hood Devel­op­ment Cen­tres

With the fur­ther eas­ing of  lock­down restric­tions, sev­er­al peo­ple in addi­tion to those pro­vid­ing essen­tial ser­vices returned to work open­ing a gap for the child­care of these work­ers.

Bear­ing this in mind, Mot­shek­ga said the depart­ment will main­tain a del­i­cate bal­ance between allow­ing Ear­ly Child­hood Devel­op­ment Cen­tres (ECD­Cs) to oper­ate, along­side the safe­ty and health of the chil­dren and their care­givers.

“The reg­u­la­tions for Lev­el 3 are being finalised and we believe there will be a solu­tion to this mat­ter very soon.

“We are work­ing togeth­er with the Depart­ment of Social Devel­op­ment on this mat­ter as it strad­dles both depart­ments at the moment,” she said.

To mon­i­tor imple­men­ta­tion on the deliv­ery of essen­tials and adher­ence to guide­lines, the depart­ment has appoint­ed a con­sor­tium of inde­pen­dent mon­i­tors. –

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President Cyril Ramaphosa GCIS.

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