Plans underway to welcome back more grades to school

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Plans are underway to welcome back more pupils to schools across the country as the Basic Education Department continues with its phased reopening of schools amid COVID-19.

In just five days, pupils in Grades R, 1, 2, 3, 6, 10 and 11 are set to return to school on 6 July 2020.

Earlier this month, Grade 7 and 12 pupils returned to the classroom as government implemented the phased reopening of the country and the economy.

Briefing Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, the department’s Director-General Mathanzima Mweli said while the department is prepared to welcome back 52% of pupils next week, it will consider the trend of infections.

“Although we are saying 52% of learners, we are not fixed to bringing the 52%. We have heard that community infections are flaring up, we discussed this last night with unions, and we are saying our plan is extremely flexible.

“We are not going to push for 52% to come if we can see that there is danger. The community infections that are happening might spill over to schools. We are very cautious of that,” he said.

Since the reopening of schools on 8 June, the Education Department noted that 523 pupils, 1 169 staff members and 775 schools have been affected by COVID-19.

Mathanzima said, while the department is prepared to welcome pupils, it is also mindful about the capacity of the health sector.

“We not only look at our capacity to run the system but also have to be mindful about the capacity of the health sector to deal with the flaring up of infections in communities because those schools are located in communities, so we are alive to that reality.”

Rotational school attendance

In an effort to maintain social distancing at schools, Mweli presented the department’s plan to amend the timetable to ensure that only 50% of the total learner enrolment is present at a given moment.

Under the plan, the department suggests that learners either attend school on a bi-weekly basis, rotate to be present ever second day or all learners attend on a particular day. –

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